Taipei, June 22 (CNA) Premier Wu Den-yih reiterated Wednesday the government's determination to defend and promote food safety in order to restore Taiwan's reputation as a clean and trustworthy food producer in the international market.
Addressing the opening of the annual Food Taipei fair, Wu called the discovery of industrial-use plasticizer in food and beverage products in Taiwan in May as not just a "crisis" but also a "turning point."
"Taiwan's past is like a mirror. Now the mirror is covered by dust," Wu said. "We must wipe off the dust thoroughly. We must rebuild Taiwan's food image."
Taiwan must ensure that every process in growing rice and other crops, as well as breeding fish, is sophisticated and trustworthy, he said.
To achieve these goals, the government has not just taken immediate measures to control and stem the contamination of plasticizers in foods but has also launched efforts to help local businesses weather the storm and win back the trust of their customers, he said.
Taipei Food 2011, the 21st of its kind, is one of the most important food shows in Asia and a major event in the food industry in Chinese communities around the world.
This year, it is being held concurrently with Foodtech and Pharmatech Taipei 2011 and Taipei Pack 2011 at the Nangang Exhibition Hall. They will all run through June 25.
According to the organizer, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), Taiwan's predicament since the food scare broke out in May has not affected the food fair.
A total of 1,129 domestic and foreign companies have set up 2,720 booths at the venue, including 830 businesses producing and selling food products, the organizer said.
Chen Ying-hsien, director of the TAITRA Taiwan Trade Center in Tokyo, told CNA that Japan has given big support to the fair, which is hosting 51 Japanese firms.
In addition, Japan's Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry and its Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have also jointly set up a national pavilion at the fair, he said.
More than 1,700 professional buyers have arrived in Taiwan to attend the four-day event, which shows that Taiwan has already built up a reputation in the cultivation and production of high-quality foods, TAITRA officials said.
Aside from Wu, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Francis Liang and TAITRA Chairman Wang Chih-kang also attended the fair's opening ceremony.
Ever since the outbreak of the food safety crisis the government has taken strict measures to weed tainted food products out of the market, while raiding factories that produce plasticizer-tainted food.
So far, two business owners and their family members suspected of producing substandard food additives to cut costs, have been detained and indicted by prosecutors.
(By Lin Shu-yuan and Elizabeth Hsu)