TAIWAN - Since 1 March 2014, it as been compulsory for chicken meat sold in retail markets to show labels indicating if the products have been refrigerated or defrosted, with fines of up to NT$1.5 million for non-compliance.
Chicken meat is one of the daily necessities and in order to strengthen the management over frozen and refrigerated meat, the Council of Agriculture (COA) announced on 26 January 2013 that the enzyme inspection method will serve as the only inspection and certification method for this chicken meat product.
Based on the guiding principle of executive synchronisation, agencies such as Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and Consumer Protection Committee have all come together in integrating this inspection into legislation and regulations.
COA also invited eight leading retail chains to attend an information seminar on 24 February.
From the beginning from March, retail stores that fail to comply with the new regulation demanding proper labelling of chicken meat products have been given a probation period to correct the violations. If those violations were not corrected after the deadline expires, stores may face fines ranging from NT$60,000 to NT$1.5 million.
Frozen and refrigerated meat segregation: vital for well-being of consumers and farmers
COA further explained that after Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), almost all imported chicken meat has been frozen, whereas domestically produced chicken meat is mostly refrigerated.
If frozen and refrigerated meat is not labelled accordingly or as in some cases, frozen meat thawed to be sold as refrigerated meat and was not properly indicated, consumers may repeatedly freeze and thaw the meat. Not only does this cycle decrease the quality of the meat but also increase food safety risks.
Moreover, according to the current food safety law, the country of origin should be clearly labelled.
Imported meat is usually cheaper than domestic meat. Where there is no clear distinction between thawed frozen meat and refrigerated meat on the market, there may be confusion for customers and concerns of consumer deception.
The Council thus listed the frozen and refrigerated meat segregation as crucial work to ensure the well-being of all consumers and farmers.
Thawed frozen meat and refrigerated meat on display should be clearly labelled and segregated
COA also pointed out that the proper core temperature for frozen chicken meat should be maintained at below -18°C. Meat thawed by rewarming to be sold in room temperature or refrigerator should be labelled 'unfrozen' meat.
For the refrigeration chicken meat, the core temperature should be maintained between -2 to 7°C and labelled as 'refrigerated' meat.
The display area for these two types of meat must be distinctively separated to avoid mixture and confusion. The signage can be either card, tag (label), or sign (board) by posting, hanging, placing, sticking with paste, or any other form of clear identification. For tags or labels, the dimension of the words 'unfrozen meat' and 'refrigerated meat' should be no smaller than 6mm in length and width.
For the other forms of signage, the measurement for each character should be larger than 2cm.
Chicken meat products without proper label as well as adulterated or mislabeled products can face fines up to NT$1.5 million
Since March 2014, COA added that CAS-certified chicken products have also been included in the inspection of refrigerated and frozen meat.
Products in violation of the regulation are charged with mislabelling and fined between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000 may be made each case, in accordance with Agricultural Production and Certification Act.
For chicken meat products without labels or mislabelled, a certain period of time was given to correct, recall or destroy based on article 36, Consumer Protection Act. If necessary, the manufacturer was ordered to terminate its production, manufacturing and processing services.
Any violation without timely improvement or correction faced fines between NT$60,000 and NT$1.5 million, according to article 58 of the aforementioned act.
TheMeatSite News Desk