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CAS Products Are Welcome Everywhere
If consumers want to buy fresh agricultural products, they certainly should choose those with Organic, Produce Traceability and GAP (Good Agriculture Practice) labels. But consumers must insist on CAS when they buy agricultural processed products.
The three letters of CAS (Certified Agricultural Standards) are very important because they stand for premium agricultural products and represents consumers can “feel at ease.”
That’s why Mr. Hung-tsung Tsai Director of the Department of Certification, Taiwan Premium Agricultural Products Development Institute has always mentioned his patter that “Food CAS, health YES.”
What worry consumers the most about agricultural processed products is from what materials they are made? Do they have any problem? And what consumers can do about the processed products because they are unable to tell whether their materials were safe before being processed? That’s what CAS does for consumers.
“Now a total of 14 items of food are subject to CAS regulations, and a total of 6,091 processed products manufactured by 297 companies and factories have obtained CAS labels,” noted Tsai.
He strongly advised consumers to support food products with CAS label, because “the label is used by domestic products only and our regulations cover not only hygiene standards but also quality standards.”
All imported agricultural products or processed food are excluded from CAS certification. “Why baked or roasted food products are not included in certification by our institute? Why don’t we give bean curd an opportunity for CAS certification? That’s because they are made from such imported raw agricultural materials such as flour and soybeans,” explained Tsai. Therefore, neither salad oil is qualified for certification since it is made from soybeans, which is imported.
“To support CAS is to support domestic agriculture which, in turn, are nearly in need of everybody’s support. That’s the function of CAS,” said Tsai.
Of course, in order to get consumers’ support, CAS must be worthwhile for the support. Mr. Tsai cited pork ball as an example, saying that even certificate application for pork balls made completely according to regulated hygiene standards could be turned down. Because CAS emphasizes health and such processed food products as pork ball are closely related to pig fat, the certificate authority has set strict standard on oil and grease contents.
“That is the quality requirement,” said Tsai, adding that “Our principle is absolutely not to allow consumers to be at a disadvantage.”
To obtain CAS certificate is not the end of the road. Processed products manufacturing site and markets are subject to regular and irregular random inspections all the time. “We have made random inspections on more than 200 kinds of processed products and CAS certificates of seven factories have been revoked so far this year,” noted Tsai.
Bamboo charcoals produced by Jhushan Bamboo Production Cooperative are CAS certified. “We obtained the label after having worked very hard,” said Cooperative Manager Ching-wu Chen. First, they had to prove that all bamboos being used came from forest land because bamboo is a forest product. Then, the soil had to pass inspections and tests that there were no residue of heavy metals. And they are required to manufacture products with 4-6-year-old bamboos, with records showing when were they felled and processed. When bamboos are baked in kilns to make charcoals, they are also subject to remote on-line controlling and monitoring by the inspection agency.
Although producers have to undergo such minute and complicated procedures before obtaining CAS label, but Mr. Chen thinks the efforts are worthwhile because “with CAS label our exports to Japan can pass through customs directly without being inspected and showing the required certificate.”
Hsinlung Ltd., a fish products exporting company, also benefits from CAS label. The company’s products have become more popular in export markets since they have the CAS label on them.
Mr. Hung-tsung Tsai always endorses his work with his background, saying “I had been section chief at the Bureau of Food Sanitation under the Department of Health. And I am the holder of Taiwan Dietician Certificate No. 001. As long as I am in charge of certification, it is OK with the hygiene or nutrition of CAS-labeled products.”