A central government order nullifying food safety regulations put in place by local governments requiring “ractopamine-free products” was judged to be legal, the Constitutional Court said yesterday.
The court cited articles of the Constitution and the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法) in its sixth judgement this year, affirming the authority of the central government to insist that food safety regulations be followed and to direct the nation’s trade policy.
The local city councils of Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Chiayi County and Tainan appealed to the court over the central government order after they adopted a “zero tolerance” policy toward ractopamine residue in US pork imports.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
The administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in August 2020 said that Taiwan would allow imports of pork containing ractopamine residue, with the order taking effect on Jan. 1 last year.
The Executive Yuan on Dec. 31, 2020, announced that local government bans on imported pork containing ractopamine were in contravention of the central government’s authority and were invalided when the import restrictions were lifted.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) at the time pledged to help local governments to seek a constitutional ruling on the legality of the central government’s move to invalidate local ractopamine bans.
Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力) read the ruling at the Constitutional Court yesterday.
Article 15 of the act stipulates that the central government has the authority to place restrictions on processing and preparation of raw materials and edible parts for food use, Hsu said.
Article 18-1 stipulates that “businesses in food processing and its raw materials ... shall conform to safety, sanitation and quality standards ... as prescribed by the central authority,” while Article 21 sets out the requirements for “review and approval by the central authority,” including health risk assessments for food manufacturing, processing, input of additives, preparation, packaging, import and export of food products, and registration and permit requirements, he said.
Moreover, Article 107 of the Constitution stipulates that the central government has the power of legislation and administration of foreign trade policy in the section delineating the “powers between central and local governments,” he added.
The Constitution’s Article 118 stipulates that “self-government of municipalities comes under the direct jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan,” so local jurisdictions must not contradict or exceed the powers of the central government, he said.
The hierarchy of authority is a series of concentric circles, with village and township authorities in the middle, county and city bodies encircling them — as they have a greater degree of self-government ability — while the central government is the national authority encircling all the others, Hsu said.
“Local ordinances are constrained by the central government’s powers, as legislative statues and the Constitution stipulate,” Hsu said.
The KMT expressed regret over the ruling, which it said would harm the intent of the self-governing framework for local governments, who make decisions that are in the best interests of their local constituents.
“We once again would like to condemn the central government for opening the door to imports of pork products containing ractopamine,” the party said. “This move has endangered the health and food safety of Taiwanese.”
The Executive Yuan said it welcomed yesterday’s judgement.
Government agencies would work with local governments on this matter to ensure food safety and to safeguard the health of everyone in Taiwan in accordance with international standards and based on scientific evidence, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said.
Ninth graders were asked to define “trolling” on this year’s standardized exam, reflecting efforts to make the test better reflect real-life situations. Adjustments to this year’s Comprehensive Assessment Program for Junior High School Students were revealed on Sunday, after the last cohort of students completed the test over the weekend. The Ministry of Education solicited feedback about the test from teachers, who approved of the new question in the English portion. Not only was question No. 20 “very much in line with real-life situations,” but it also used a new style in which students were asked to ascertain the correct dictionary definition based
Taiwan is on alert for monkeypox, a rare viral disease that has caused 87 infections in 11 countries over the past three weeks, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said on Saturday. The WHO on Friday convened an emergency session to discuss a sudden outbreak of monkeypox in North America and Europe. Since the beginning of this month, 87 confirmed cases and 28 possible cases have been identified in 11 countries. The countries with the highest case counts are England with 29 cases, and Portugal and Spain with 23 each. Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease occurring primarily in the tropical rainforest areas
ADAPTING: The CECC said the policy change would happen this week at the earliest, while PCR testing stations would be used to diagnose people and prescribe drugs The general public would be able to use a positive rapid test result that has been confirmed by a doctor for COVID-19 diagnosis starting later this week at the soonest, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported 79,441 new local infections and 53 deaths. The center on Saturday announced that it was expanding the rapid test diagnosis policy to people living in indigenous townships and outlying islands, starting today. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, yesterday said the policy might be further expanded to include “all people” this week, at the soonest. He
About 47 percent of people whose deaths were related to COVID-19 this year have died within three days of testing positive, while 33 percent died within three to seven days, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), the center’s spokesman, said 66,247 new local cases, 36 imported cases and 40 deaths were confirmed yesterday. As the number of daily confirmed cases has dropped in the past four days, from 90,331 cases on Thursday last week to 66,247 cases yesterday, the center was asked if Taiwan has reached the peak of a