Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thanks, Yang

Last week, EcoWaste Coalition observed World Environment by trooping to Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Metro Manila, not in protest, but in gratitude to Taiwanese food safety inspector.

According to the China Times website, the 52-year-old inspector, a mother of two surnamed Yang, first became suspicious in March of rare contaminants when she was routinely checking beverages to find out whether they were adulterated with any banned chemicals.

Yang’s diligence uncovered Taiwan’s latest tainted food scandal involving the massive use of the cancer-causing plasticizer DEHP in bottled beverages and dairy products.

Officials of Taiwan’s health department declined to divulge Yang’s full name “in order to maintain her privacy.”

Yang became suspicious of a new trace of contamination when she saw abnormal wave-shaped signals on her gas chromatography screen as she was inspecting certain sports and soft drinks. She spent two weeks identifying the signals as being caused by DEHP.

Last week, Taiwan’s health officials announced that DEHP has been detected in 16 samples of sports and soft drinks, including Sunkist lemon juice, Taiwan Yes energy-boosting drink, and a sports drink manufactured by Young Energy Source Co. All these drinks have been removed from store shelves.

In what the EcoWaste Coalition described as “a simple event” held outside the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Makati City, the environmentalists honored the Taiwanese food safety inspector, “for her perseverance in protecting the public good.”

“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.

Aside: Chinese women traditionally retain their maiden name even after marriage. For example, Mao Zedong’s fourth wife was still called Jiang Qing long after she married the Chinese communist leader. It is likely that calling the Taiwanese food safety inspector “Mrs. Yang” is inappropriate.

Whoever she really is, thanks just the same.


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