According to Health officials in Taipei, six out of the 35 vegetarian products sold on the market were discovered to contained chicken, beef or pork.
The officials stated that the six substandard vegetarian products, which constituted 17.1% of the samples examined, were not packaged and that consumers had no way of knowing their contents.
The food products under review were sold as vegetarian products but did, however, contain animal ingredients, most likely to enhance their flavour, the officials stated.
Compliance with certification system in 2009
Chiang Yu-mei, director of the Food and Drug Division of the city government's health department, said that from 1 July 2009, all vegetarian food manufacturers and stores must comply with a certification system designed to protect the rights of Taiwan's more than 2 mln vegetarians.
Yu-mei stated that the packages of the vegetarian products must label clearly to which of the five classes they belong:
- Purely vegetarian
- Vegetarian with eggs
- Vegetarian with dairy products
- Vegetarian with eggs and dairy products or
- Vegetarian without animal content
A package marked "purely vegetarian" means that it does not contain animal products or any of the five herbs that are considered as non-vegetarian -- onions, garlic, Chinese chives, shallots and leeks – because according to Buddhist scriptures, they excite the senses.
If vegetarian product manufacturers do not comply with the certification system, they will be liable to fines of between NT$30,000 (US$895) and NT$150,000.