Taiwan administrative chief Jiang Yi-huah on Wednesday announced tougher punishments for breaches of food safety regulations following the latest food safety scandal on the island.
Fines will be raised tenfold to punish such violations, with the penalty fees in lethal cases reaching a maximum of 200 million New Taiwan dollars (6.63 million U.S. dollars), Jiang said.
Violators will face a maximum of seven years in prison instead of the previous five-year sentence. In cases where people die because of adulterated food, the culprits could receive a life sentence.
Jiang also pledged more rewards for tip-offs. Whistleblowers will get rewards of up to two million New Taiwan dollars and will receive more than 20 percent of fines levied by local authorities.
Other measures to ensure food safety include more meticulous supervision of cooking oil, and stricter implementation of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) standards, according to Jiang.
On Sept. 5, Taiwanese police busted a ring selling hundreds of tonnes of recycled cooking oil made from kitchen waste and grease from leather processing plants, following a tip-off from a member of the public.
Chang Guann, a well-established cooking oil maker, purchased the recycled oil to produce 782 tonnes of lard before selling it on to hundreds of food companies and restaurants.
Over 1,000 businesses, including leading brands such as Wei Chuan, Vedan, Want Want and Master Kong, were identified as having used the tainted oil.
The scandal has caused massive recalls of products ranging from cakes to instant noodles.
Although Taiwan is known for its gourmet products, this was the second food scandal to hit the island in less than a year. Last October, olive oil in Taiwan was found to contain low-quality substitutes and a banned coloring agent.