Various print media published a full coverage of news report on November 25 which created serious confusion on the usage of terms “traceable agricultural products (TAP)”, “production traceability system”, and “QR code”. The Council of Agriculture (COA) wishes to clarify that the TAP system does indeed possess the qualities of open information and complete traceability, but these two merits hardly represent the whole true value of the system. The most important aspects are to monitor production process and ensure food safety as well as sustainable environment through mechanisms such as certification, inspection, and examination. Comparing with other simpler traceability systems the Council is promoting recently, the TAP focuses more on consumer's demand. The COA wishes that all sectors can clearly distinguish among them and utilize correctly in order to avoid misleading the consumers or causing agricultural producers to be penalized.
The COA explained that in order to assist consumers in verifying important values such as safety and sustainability of agricultural products in the market, the TAP system implemented by council set production-marketing operation standards such as the Taiwan Good Agricultural Practice (TGAP), and safeguard by professional third-party international certification agencies. After years of dedicated promotion, TAP products can be purchased at any hypermarket chains. Nevertheless, due to the meticulous and detailed nature of the production record inquiry service provided by the TAP system, the public often ignored its core value. Some media even failed to make clear distinction between the TAP system and other basic labeling systems that merely disclosed source information, thus misleading the general consumers.
The use of these terms is only allowed for certified TAP products
The COA stated that in order to protect the consumer's interests, only those agricultural products that have passed the proper TAP certification, then coded and labeled in accordance with regulations are allowed to utilize the terms TAP, Production Traceability, Traceability Certification, and TGAP in labeling, displaying, or advertising. Any breach of such regulation could result in fines between NT$60,000 to NT$300,000.
Look for and identify the certification mark and label to facilitate the purchase of TAP
The COA advises consumers to identify TAP and relevant labeling information such as traceability code, open information website, name of product, and certification agency, so as to ensure that they have purchased safe and sustainable TAP products.
Picture 1: Picture shows TAP mark. Only those agricultural products that have passed TAP certification are allowed to use it. Usage without proper certification is subject to fines between NT$200,000 to NT$1 million.
Picture 2: Sample of TAP Certification label. It should include name of product, traceability code, method of open information, labeling and certification agency. Moreover, a QR code of TAP contains product batch information unclosuring website address could assist consumers to access the production records and relevant information.