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Taiwan Tackles Labelling for Veggie-style Foods - 06/05/2008
 
Practices for Chinese Eateries to Adopt and Improve on in the UK
1. For “religious and health reasons” the Department of Health of Taiwan has plans to require food manufacturers to provide detailed information of vegetarian food. Under the new rules, food manufacturers must identify the content of the veggie food according to five categories on the outside of the food package.

2. The five categories are:
• pure veggie
• milk veggie
• egg veggie
• egg/milk veggie
• plant veggie

3. Pure veggie refers to food that does not contain meat, egg, milk or five kinds of plants (onion, garlic, leek, etc, which are considered spicy and unclean and are banned by strict Buddhist practitioners).

4. Egg veggie, milk veggie, egg/milk veggie and plant veggie means the food is veggie food (eg without meat – or meat-free in British parlance) but contains egg or milk (or both) or the five kinds of spicy plants, respectively.

5. The Taiwanese of Department of Health has bowed to requests from some 100 Buddhist and vegetarian groups, who explain their views that “while vegetarian food generally means food made without meat, many Asians, for religious reasons, do not eat veggie food which has milk, egg or the five kinds of spicy plants in them.” The department will announce the new rule in July and implement it next year. Violators of the rule will face a 240,000 Taiwan dollar ($7,900 US) fine.

6. Most of Taiwan's 23 million human population is Buddhist; about 2 million are vegetarians, either for religious or health reason, “and their number is growing.”

7. Although the plans reveal some of the subdivisions into which consumers calling themselves veggie place themselves, customs vary from country to country. It would be good if at least Chinese (and Thai, Indian and Japanese) restaurants in the UK used the proposed definitions for Taiwan, but – as we have explained many times in consultations with the Food Standards Agency, manufacturers and retailers – adoption of the “freedom” system is preferable for its practicability and growing implementation and custom. Thus true free-from veggie lifestyles are meat-, dairy-, egg-, and fish-free (and correspondingly plantiful) and – as in the nomenclature for toiletries – cruelty-free. Consumers can then base their observations and choices on easily understood facts rather than outdated and misunderstood descriptions unfit for the standards and purposes of today’s citizens and regulating bodies.  
 
 

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