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Where Can I Buy Safe Agricultural Products?
After our discussion of the characteristics and benefits of safe agricultural products, a lot of consumers are probably interested in knowing where to buy agricultural products bearing the three logos. Since June 2007, many products have carried the TAP logo. There are nine certification authorities, and as of Nov. 27, 2007, 96 agricultural producers had passed the certification process and 41 products carried the TAP logo. The products include rice, potatoes, pomelos, eggs, shrimp, pork etc.. These products are sold mostly in supermarket chains and hypermarkets such as the Jasons supermarkets in Taipei 101 and the Dayeh-Takashimaya in Tianmu as well as the Orange Market in Hsinchu and others that are equipped with terminals which consumers can use to look up the products information right away. It's hoped that these terminals can be installed in other hypermarkets like Carrefour and Taisuco before the end of 2007. In the future, these products will be distributed via fast food chains, caterers, organic shops, export companies, traditional markets and home delivery, which should allow consumers to find the best products with a minimum of effort.
In September 2006, to ensure that agricultural products are safe, in addition to creating a certification system run by independent third-party organizations, the COA requested the Taiwan Accreditation Foundation to be a TAP certification authority and assist the COA in processing applications. In April 2007, the Food Safety Institute International received a certificate and became a privately owned organization qualified by the government to certify agricultural products. To date, products such as eggs from Shih An Farm, vegetables from Hankuan Fruit and Vegetables, beef tomatoes from Golden Triangle and chicken from Dachan Greatwall have met the rigorous standards of Food Safety Institute International, and these products are now on the market for consumers. Also, four other organic certification organizations have done great work and have won the consumer’s confidence. In the future, these organizations will continue to work with the COA and do their best to help bring the most healthful and nutritious organic agricultural products to consumers.
The Department of Planning of COA said that starting in 2009, all qualified organic products will bear the OTAP mark. Starting in 2010, all good agricultural products will carry the OTAP mark. Finally, in 2015, TAP will be implemented nationally. In recent years, the COA has been pushing for wide adoption of TAP and to make the system more comprehensive, meeting the standards of more advanced countries and allowing safe agricultural products to become more widespread. The government aims to encourage farmers to apply for certification under these three logos and join the TAP program, which will help farmers reduce their production risks and increase the value of products, helping farmers boost their profits. Once the system and its concepts are thoroughly adopted by farmers, it will be easier to implement the system. Once these practices are in place, consumers will benefit. They will not worry about eating unsafe food and choose the products they want. With these three certification mechanisms, everyone will be winners and a new era of high quality food will start.