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Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 2012 Jul;28(7 Suppl):S10-6. doi: 10.1016/j.kjms.2012.05.004. Epub 2012 Jul 7.

Major food safety episodes in Taiwan: implications for the necessity of international collaboration on safety assessment and management.

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School of Pharmacy, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.


The major food safety episodes that occurred in Taiwan during the past decade are briefly reviewed in this paper. Among the nine major episodes surveyed, with the exception of a U.S. beef (associated with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease)-related incident, all the others were associated with chemical toxicants. The general public, which has a layperson attitude of zero tolerance toward food safety, may panic over these food-safety-associated incidents. However, the health effects and impacts of most incidents, with the exception of the melamine incident, were essentially not fully evaluated. The mass media play an important role in determining whether a food safety concern becomes a major incident. A well-coordinated and harmonized system for domestic and international collaboration to set up standards and regulations is critical, as observed in the incidents of pork with ractopamine, Chinese hairy crab with nitrofuran antibiotics, and U.S. wheat with malathion. In the future, it can be anticipated that food safety issues will draw more attention from the general public. For unknown new toxicants or illicit adulteration of food, the establishment of a more proactive safety assessment system to monitor potential threats and provide real-time information exchange is imperative.

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