Saturday, 29 October 2011

News Brief: Legal Rammifications of May's Food Scare

Two items relating to the toxic-food-additive scandal in May this year were reported yesterday:

The first reported the sentencing of members of the family at the centre of the scandal which involved unknowable numbers of people consuming tainted foods and drinks, undermined consumer confidence at home and abroad, and has already led to changes in the food sanitation act (full story Taipei Times here).

Chen Che-hsiung (陳哲雄), owner of Pin Han Perfumery Co in New Taipei City, was sentenced by the Banqiao District Court to 13 years in prison for fraud after using diisononyl phthalate (DINP) in clouding agents.

His wife, Wang Fen (王粉), was sentenced to 10 years, while sons, Chen Wei-cheng (陳威丞) and Chen Wei-chuan (陳威銓), were found not guilty on multiple violations of the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法).

Following legislative amendments, the future maximum fine for violations has been raised from NT$300,000 (ca. US$10,000) to NT$6 million (ca. US$200,000)

The second piece reported that the Consumer’s Foundation (消費者文教基金會) is preparing a class-action suit on behalf of consumers against the companies responsible for May’s food scare (full Taipei Times article here).

Chairperson Joann Su (蘇錦霞) said the foundation, working with the Consumer Protection Commission (消費者保護委員會) under the Executive Yuan, has already settled about 2,000 complaints. Most have yet to reach agreements with dealers, she said.

With the cost of legal proceedings estimated at about NT$6 million (ca. US$200,000), funding would come in part from fund-raising, Su said, but that the foundation would also solicit support from the Executive Yuan’s reserve funds.

Su called on the government to amend third-party insurance regulations and approve legislation for a Consumers’ Protection Foundation Fund to protect consumers’ rights. Existing insurance provision has not helped consumers affected by the plasticizer incident, Su said.

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