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Future direction of Taiwan's regulations for food and cosmetics

On 9 September, the ECCT's Retail & Distribution and Cosmetics committees jointly hosted a lunch on the topic "Future direction of Taiwan's regulations for food and cosmetics" with guest of honour Chiang Yu-mei, Director-General, Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA), Ministry of Health and Welfare (MoHW) and her colleagues from the TFDA: Pan Jyh-quan, Director, Division of Food Safety (TFDA) and Tu Pei-weng, Director, Division of Medical Devices & Cosmetics. The guest of honour gave a short introductory speech before handing over to her colleagues who provided updates on Taiwan's progress towards adopting an internationally-aligned regulatory system governing food and cosmetics in Taiwan.

Pan Jyh-quan, Director of the Division of Food Safety gave an overview of Taiwan's food safety management system, which covers the whole food chain from the farm to the table. A lot of changes have been made over the past year in response to food safety incidents, especially in the areas of registration and traceability. Food Business Operators (FBOs) are required to register and the TFDA's ultimate goal is to get all FBOs registered. Good progress has been made to date as 230,000 FBOs are already registered, according to Pan.

The management system for imported food has been tightened to try to prevent the importation of unsafe products through inspections overseas and at borders. The TFDA is also constantly monitoring international food safety alert systems.

To enhance food safety at home, the government has launched a cloud-based traceability system and compulsory electronic receipt system for companies with paid-in capital of over NT$30 million. Eight categories of food businesses have since February this year been required to establish their own traceability systems. Other categories will have to do so over the next four years, starting with those whose products pose the most risk to human health.

The edible oil and fat manufacturers were the first to be subject to compulsory self-testing while three categories of FBOs (meat, dairy and seafood processing) have to conform to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) management guidelines. Inspections will be carried out to ensure compliance. A total of 16 food categories will eventually be subject to compulsory self-testing. FBOs will be required to destroy non-compliant products and notify authorities if any non-compliant products are already in the market. Less risky food businesses (10 categories including canned food producers, food additives, starch, flour and sugar producers) will have to be audited by third parties.

A food safety protection fund will be set up, run by experts, to review contentious cases. A food cloud is being set up that will receive data from several ministries. The aim of the food cloud is to improve cross-ministry communication and coordination on food safety matters. Some data may be open to public.

Tu Pei-weng, Director of the Division of Medical Devices & Cosmetics gave an overview and update of the source control, pre-market regulation and post-market surveillance of cosmetics in Taiwan. According to Tu, Taiwan will maintain pre-market approval for products such as hair dyes, perm products and sunscreen for five years, after which a product information file (PIF) system will take effect. During the five-year grace period, specific types of cosmetics products will need to be approved before being placed on the market. According to Tu, the pre-approval requirement for advertisements will also be abolished after five years. In order to increase transparency, the TFDA will hold seminars to explain the details of draft amendments, to which industry will be invited.