Government plans to establish a bureau to oversee chemicals following a serious food contamination scandal in 2011

The Taiwanese government plans to create a new agency within its Environmental Protection Administration to manage and monitor chemical substances by the end of the year, as part of a food safety initiative.

The draft legislation to create the TWD$600 million (£15.24 million) agency, dubbed the Toxins and Chemicals Bureau, was reportedly approved by the Cabinet on 3 November and still awaits approval by the legislature. If approved, the new agency will be responsible for overseeing and regulating an estimated 27,000 chemicals, 3000 of which are commonly used in food additives, according to the Taipei Times. Currently, chemical regulation in Taiwan is the purview of 11 different government agencies, the paper notes.

The proposal for the new agency follows a 2011 scandal in Taiwan when the plasticisers di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) and diisononyl phthalate (DiNP) – known endocrine disruptors – were found to have been illegally added to clouding agents used in foods and drinks. It was determined that over 960 food and beverage products in Taiwan were contaminated, of which more than 200 were then exported to 22 countries.