Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Environment group lauds Taiwanese inspector for detecting DEHP in food products

To mark the World Environment Day, the EcoWaste Coalition on Friday gave a “Salamat Po” award to the woman behind the massive recall of Taiwanese beverage and food products containing a cancer-causing industrial chemical.

Citing latest available data from the Taiwan’s official website, the toxic watchdog reported that a total of 746 products from 216 companies have been listed as contaminated with di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or DEHP plasticizer.

In a simple event held outside the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Makati City, Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the Philippines, the environmentalists symbolically presented the award to “Mrs. Yang,” the Taiwanese food safety inspector, “for her perseverance in protecting the public good.”

Wearing 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 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.

The “Salamat Po” award stated that “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.”

“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 award text 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 award 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 award 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.


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