03 June 2011

Toxic Watchdog Says "Salamat Po" to Taiwanese Food Safety Inspector






In celebration of the World Environment Day on June 5, the EcoWaste Coalition, a toxic watchdog, today gave a citation to the woman behind the massive recall of Taiwanese beverage and food products contaminated with a cancer-causing industrial chemical.

In a simple ceremony held outside the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Makati City, Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the Philippines, members of the EcoWaste Coalition gave “Mrs. Yang,” a Taiwanese food safety inspector, a “Salamat Po” award “for her perseverance in protecting the public good.” “Salamat po” is “thank you” in Filipino language.

Donning traditional Chinese costumes, the environmentalists commended the 52-year old employee of Taiwan’s Department of Health - Food and Drug Administration (DOH-FDA) for her professional dedication that led to the detection of di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), a toxic substance used as plasticizer, in some Taiwanese drinks and foods.

“Mrs. Yang” was identified by Lo Chi-fang, Secretary-General of DOH-FDA, as the person responsible for detecting the DEHP contamination, refusing to disclose "Mrs. Yang's" complete name to protect her privacy.

“In the face of the snowballing toxic food crisis in Taiwan, we take a breather to say ‘salamat po’ to ‘Mrs. Yang’ for her priceless service to public health and safety,” said retired nurse Elsie Brandes-De Veyra of the EcoWaste Coalition, which is campaigning for consumer access to information and for consumer protection against hazardous chemicals in goods.

“Through the faithful performance of her duty, Mrs. Yang has prevented the distribution and sale of more DEHP-tainted products in Taiwan and in importing countries like the Philippines, thus reducing consumer exposure to the cancer-causing DEHP, a toxic additive to plastics,” the EcoWaste Coalition said .

“Mrs. Yang’s meticulous and faithful performance of her job as a food safety inspector should be emulated by all public servants, especially by government officials and employees charged with ensuring that manufacturers and businesses fully comply with health and environmental laws such as those regulating chemical substances in products,” the group noted.

“Mrs. Yang is an exemplary model of a conscientious government regulator that every society needs in order to eliminate toxic threats to public health - particularly to the most vulnerable population groups - and the environment,” the group further stated.

“We hope her action will inspire increased consumer vigilance against toxic harm and bring about lasting chemical reforms in our societies, including the implementation of toxics use reduction and clean production, food traceability processes and good manufacturing audits, for the sake of public health and safety,” the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

At the same time, the EcoWaste Coalition lauded the decision by local food and drug regulators led by FDA Director Suzette Lazo to protect local consumers from DEHP exposure with the issuance of FDA Advisory 2011-008, which directs the immediate recall of tainted goods from Taiwan.

Citing data from the Taiwan FDA website, the EcoWaste Coalition reported that, as of May 31, a total of 746 products from 216 companies have been listed as contaminated with the toxic DEHP plasticizer.

Reference:

Info re "Mrs. Yang":
http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20110525000069&cid=1603

Info re products contaminated with DEHP:
http://www.fda.gov.tw/eng/news.aspx?newssn=7679&classifysn=118

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