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My thoughts on food safety in Taiwan (Read before visiting Taiwan)

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Thomas Cat
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My thoughts on food safety in Taiwan (Read before visiting Taiwan)

Post by Thomas Cat » July 12th, 2019, 1:00 am

I apologize for my poor English. I found English to be very difficult for me, though I was trying my best.

First we talk about additives, the food safety laws in Taiwan are outdated and have a lot of loopholes. So some harmful additives that are forbidden in most of the countries might be legally used in Taiwan.

You should also be really worrying about the additives approved by most of the countries in Taiwan. Why? It's because the standard amount of those additives in Taiwan may have exceeded the international standard amount way too much.

So don't just let your guard down when you find out the additives of the food you pick are approved by the international standard, since the amount of those additives may still exceed the international standard. What's even worse is that some of the additives are not even legal to be used in Taiwan but you can still find reports about people putting illegal additives in foods and selling them.



Now we talk about the food hygiene, when you eat out in Taiwan, you can't really expect the food to be clean. I remember eating in a small noodle restaurant and I had an urge to use the restroom (by the way, many of small restaurants do not have restrooms available, they are only for employees), so I asked one of the employees if I could use it.

And yes I was allowed to use the restroom but I was disgusted as the moment I walked in, there was a table in the restroom and on the table were the pots filled with soup(without pot lids) and the vegetables, I also noticed there were buckets filled with their sauces on the floor. I quickly used the restroom and left.

After the incident, I seldom ate out. But when I have to eat in a small noodle restaurant, I always ask if I can use their restrooms. The other big problem of most small Taiwanese restaurants is that their kitchens are outside, which also means flies, mouses, and cockroaches can easily touch your food.

I can't assure you bigger restaurants have better hygiene since most of the Taiwanese vendors don't really care about it and the department of health in Taiwan is tremendously inefficient.



Surprisingly, Taiwanese don't seem to care about the food safety. They may get angry when a food scandal first spread over Taiwan, but after like three weeks, they either stop caring about it or just simply forget the whole incident.

A lot of Taiwanese also prefer foods that are yummy and cheap and large, I don't exactly know why but it's just a trend in Taiwan. So it's easy to imagine how vendors balance these three things in their food. The manufacturers that make processed food that contains harmful additives just need to re-manufacture their products and repackage them(or advertise their improvements), and then they will be fine. People will still buy their products. Also the food safety laws barely punish those manufacturers and will not be able to protect customers from getting those potentially toxic food. At this point, I think you're starting to understand why the food safety in Taiwan is horrendous.



If you often read topics or watch videos about Taiwan food safety on the internet, you may notice there's a phenomenon in some comment sections in which some Taiwanese start changing the subject of the topic/the video and scolding that the food safety in Western countries are no better and every country has the same severe food safety situation like Taiwan.

Another interesting phenomenon I've noticed is that if a person suggests people should avoid eating in night markets due to the very worrying food safety and hygiene, people would scold the person for being haughty and arrogant or even see the person as rich.

But there's more!! When someone complains or gets depressed about the food safety in Taiwan, many Taiwanese will respond with something like "We have eaten a lot of harmful things before, and yet we are still alive, don't overthink it." or "I think those unscrupulous vendors have learned their lesson, so don't worry about the food safety.", or "You are lucky compared to those starving people, they don't even have food to eat and you're here not knowing if you should eat your food just because of its food safety?". It is more common to hear the first and the second comment during the food safety/scandal related conversations.



If you think eating in a expensive restaurant in Taiwan guarantees you a safe meal, you might be disappointed in what I'm about to tell you. Even high-end steakhouses in Taiwan served customers restructured meat.

Studies show that restructured meat should be cooked well-done(the doneness), otherwise you may likely get food poisoning. It means you may die from eating restructured meat. The thing about those Taiwanese steakhouses is they won't tell customers about the restructured meat and still ask customers how they would like their steaks, causing people who like their steaks medium-well(or more rare) potentially get food poisoning without knowing it.

There was a time when I didn't know about restructured meat, I sometimes went to those "affordable" steakhouses, and there were multiple times I felt like I got headaches after eating their steaks that were cooked medium-well. It goes without saying that most of the steakhouses in Taiwan are still using restructured meat as steaks, especially for those "affordable" steakhouses. And yeah, following the logic, the pork slices and beef slices in Taiwanese hot pot restaurants are also most likely restructured meat, please think twice before eating any meat products in restaurants in Taiwan.


You may want to cook for yourself after reading this post, but what you should beware of is the condiments and the seasonings made in Taiwan, there are reports of safety issues with some condiments and seasonings made in Taiwan(also link down below).







Taiwan food safety related links(ALL in Chinese):

List of the food scandals in Taiwan- https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%8F%B0 ... %E8%A1%A8

Hight-end steakhouses in Taiwan serving restructured meat(They claimed they did not serve restructured meat, they only used their own "technique" on their steaks)- https://123.briian.com/forum.php?mod=vi ... d&tid=3729


Unscrupulous vendor buying expired meat and kitchen waste from Costco and repackaging them to sell to breakfast shops and cafeterias- https://www.thenewslens.com/feature/foodsafety/30821


Unscrupulous vendor buying cheap catfish and labeling them as homemade Japanese cod steaks and selling them to breakfast shops and cafeterias- https://www.thenewslens.com/feature/foodsafety/31121


Factory that produced hot dogs, hams, bacon was found putting industrial grade sodium nitrite and industrial grade sodium nitrate in their products(And they had already sold their products to many breakfast shops and other caterings), and was eventually found not guilty- https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/society/br ... ws/2252905


Company selling industrial grade magnesium carbonate as food grade magnesium carbonate to a seasoning company and other downstream manufacturers(The seasoning company also knew about the industrial grade magnesium carbonate but still bought it from the company. And the seasonings they manufactured were already sold to restaurant owners and street vendors. It may have been as well sold to night market vendors and breakfast shop vendors and so on), and the company and the seasoning company were all found not guilty eventually- https://tw.news.yahoo.com/%E5%8F%97%E9% ... 00606.html



Another seasoning company was found putting industrial grade magnesium carbonate in their seasonings, and their seasonings had been on the market for 7 years- https://www.setn.com/News.aspx?NewsID=72937


Owners of cafeterias, hot pot restaurants, bento restaurants and vegetable vendors picking up vegetable wastes and selling them to customers.(When inspecting, the department of health inspectors also found there were foods and sauces sitting on the floor in the kitchen of a restaurant that served vegetable wastes. It's not clear if they only found one restaurant with such horrible hygiene condition, it may have been more.)- https://news.tvbs.com.tw/life/720479


Soy sauces mixed with potentially harmful chemicals can be legally named natural brewing soy sauces- https://www.zencosmos.com.tw/2017/02/ed ... oice/8116/


Soy sauces mixed with potentially harmful chemicals are even more expensive than the real natural brewing soy sauces- https://www.chinatimes.com/newspapers/2 ... 0114?chdtv


Foreigners' opinions about Taiwanese night markets(Lots of Taiwanese in the comment section scolding those who give their honest opinions about Taiwanese night markets)- https://www.ettoday.net/news/20170905/1004417.htm


Company buying rotten eggs, expired eggs, damaged eggs, moldy eggs, eggs with worms inside and eggs with drug residues and making them liquid eggs to sell to other caterings(Including breakfast shops and cafeterias and pastry shops, etc)- https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/society/br ... ws/2753434


Famous barbecue restaurant suing the two former employees for exposing their terrible food safety(The former employees revealed the restaurant served customers leftovers and served food that had fallen on the floor. They also revealed the restaurant served customers spoiled beef and then they told customers it was "special flavored beef". Inspectors of the department of health also suspected the restaurant used washing powder as dishwashing liquid, which was in conformity with what the former employees had said. The inspectors also discovered the hygiene condition of their kitchen was terrible and messy)- https://www.ettoday.net/news/20181002/1271902.htm


For your own health, when you eat beef products in Taiwan, you'd better make sure they're well-done.- https://buzzorange.com/2014/11/11/glued-meat-as-steak/


The reason steaks in night markets taste delicious- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7vluWAaJk0



The horrible hygiene of a noodle restaurant- https://tw.news.yahoo.com/%E8%B6%85%E5% ... 15313.html


Another horrible hygiene of a noodle restaurant(And you can see how inefficient the department of health in Taiwan is)- https://news.tvbs.com.tw/entry/201080


The dirty secret of Taiwanese food- http://www.3kirikou.org/article_detail. ... lNo%3D3644


Reasons why buying soy sauce in Taiwan is risky(This one is really worth reading)- https://tw.news.yahoo.com/%E9%86%AC%E6% ... 32376.html



After auditing 40 brands of soy sauce, 57 products of soy sauce were found misbranded and 5 were found containing too much preservatives than the standard amount- https://healthylives.tw/article/vD628Y4452j.html


Untold secrets in Taiwanese night markets(This one is also really worth reading)- https://buzzorange.com/2017/09/05/taiwa ... -bad-eggs/



Why food safety in Taiwan is terrible- http://www.phycos.com.tw/articles/152


"4-Methylimidazole" in Coca Cola Taiwan is 39 times more than the amount of Coca Cola U.S.- https://www.thenewslens.com/article/877

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Re: My thoughts on food safety in Taiwan (Read before visiting Taiwan)

Post by Winston » July 12th, 2019, 7:57 pm

OP,
Have you ever gotten sick eating food in Taiwan? The food there is world renowned and considered among the top in Asia. My acid reflux symptoms seem to subside in Taiwan, even though I eat carbs and drink coffee, but in the Philippines it flares up again. The quality of food in Philippines must be far worse. My Filipina girlfriend said all the meat and sausages she eats in Taiwan taste far better and more flavorful than in Philippines. So compared to Philippines, the food quality and safety, as well as taste, is far better in Taiwan. Come to Philippines and you will appreciate the food in Taiwan.

The problem with Taiwan are the people and strict culture - super closed, uptight, negative, self-hating, judgmental, not relaxed at all, paranoid, overly shy girls with no confidence and no social skills, awkward vibe and no social skills. It feels socially retarded. No one is even confident. Not one. Trying to connect with people feels totally weird and awkward too. That's the problem with Taiwan.

The food is ok, but it lacks variety like in China. Restaurant menus in Taiwan are usually small, one or two pages, not 10 or 15 pages like in China. And portions in Taiwanese restaurants are small too. Also, restaurants and canteens in Taiwan usually close in the afternoon, so if you try to eat late lunch at 3pm you are out of luck. They close at 2pm and open again at 5pm. But in China and even in America, restaurants and food places do not close in the afternoon. So Taiwan is a pain in the ass if you don't eat on time like the zombie masses there do. I'm surprised no one points out these disadvantages of Taiwan. Everyone seems to conform to the hip trendiness of praising Taiwan as "good" and China as "bad" because everyone else is. So it's cool and trendy to praise Taiwan and never point out its many deficiencies and negatives. I hate how everyone is hive minded these days. (except for me of course) There's honesty or pointing out the obvious with today's hive minded people. Especially in Taiwan and America.

I'm surprised the OP has so many links criticizing Taiwan food safety. Usually Taiwan is exempt from criticism because everyone sees it as America's darling of democracy in Asia and therefore a holy grail that is exempt from criticism. Especially on TV and travel communities.
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Re: My thoughts on food safety in Taiwan (Read before visiting Taiwan)

Post by Zambales » July 12th, 2019, 10:53 pm

Winston wrote:
July 12th, 2019, 7:57 pm

My Filipina girlfriend
A new one or an old flame? Fill the forum in with the details. :wink:

By the way Winston, what are Taiwanese women like? The reason I'm asking is that I was getting my haircut last week and was making conversation with the barber who mentioned he was married to a Taiwanese girl. On the off-chance I asked if she had any single Taiwanese friends living in the area and he said she did. She's apparently studying for a career currently and is said to be "shy". He mentioned he'll bring a picture of her on his phone so I'll need to go back in sometime to check it out.

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Re: My thoughts on food safety in Taiwan (Read before visiting Taiwan)

Post by Winston » July 12th, 2019, 11:11 pm

I was referring to Dianne. She's been to Taiwan 3 or 4 times now and agrees with my observations about it. Angelo does too. So do some of my Filipina friends like Luisa. That Taiwanese are cold and unfriendly and often YELL at you for no good reason at all. They've even yelled at Rock before for no reason. Rock simply erased the incident from his memory though, because he needs to believe that Taiwan is perfect for some reason. Perhaps because he made a lot of money there, so he cannot bite the hand that feeds him.

Taiwanese women are pretty good looking and hot, but stuck up as hell, and closed and have no personality and have a weird awkward vibe. I can't figure out how to even have a normal conversation with them. I don't get how Taiwanese couples connect either, since there's nothing to connect with and they are empty on the inside. Perhaps it's a business arrangement, like I heard, one with no connection.
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Re: My thoughts on food safety in Taiwan (Read before visiting Taiwan)

Post by Zambales » July 13th, 2019, 11:53 am

Winston wrote:
July 12th, 2019, 11:11 pm
I was referring to Dianne. She's been to Taiwan 3 or 4 times now and agrees with my observations about it. Angelo does too. So do some of my Filipina friends like Luisa. That Taiwanese are cold and unfriendly and often YELL at you for no good reason at all. They've even yelled at Rock before for no reason. Rock simply erased the incident from his memory though, because he needs to believe that Taiwan is perfect for some reason. Perhaps because he made a lot of money there, so he cannot bite the hand that feeds him.

Taiwanese women are pretty good looking and hot, but stuck up as hell, and closed and have no personality and have a weird awkward vibe. I can't figure out how to even have a normal conversation with them. I don't get how Taiwanese couples connect either, since there's nothing to connect with and they are empty on the inside. Perhaps it's a business arrangement, like I heard, one with no connection.
It doesn't sound too promising but she could be different. Only time will tell. Has to pass the physical attraction test first, though.

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Re: My thoughts on food safety in Taiwan (Read before visiting Taiwan)

Post by Thomas Cat » July 14th, 2019, 1:05 am

Winston wrote:
July 12th, 2019, 7:57 pm
OP, Have you ever gotten sick eating food in Taiwan?
I have gotten diarrhea eating food(not spicy nor heavy taste) in Taiwan.
The quality of food in Philippines must be far worse. My Filipina girlfriend said all the meat and sausages she eats in Taiwan taste far better and more flavorful than in Philippines.
It may have been the work of the additives.
So compared to Philippines, the food quality and safety, as well as taste, is far better in Taiwan. Come to Philippines and you will appreciate the food in Taiwan.
The only problem of eating food in Philippines I am concerned about is the hygiene, but I don't know if they overly use additives or not.

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Re: My thoughts on food safety in Taiwan (Read before visiting Taiwan)

Post by onethousandknives » July 15th, 2019, 1:18 am

I'm gonna be one of "those" foreigners and say I had no food issues in Taiwan. Actually in Taiwan I overall feel a lot better eating whatever there than I do in USA by a really decent margin. I remember I got a pork chop in Taiwan at a restaurant that tasted like a steak. When I got back to USA I bought a pork roast for the family at Wal-Mart (I know, not exceedingly high quality...) and it tasted rotten compared to TW. When I was in Vietnam, though, I had numerous problems with food safety there, though. Just personally I found with food in Taiwan I felt better than in USA. One friend of mine living in TW for 3 years only had food poisoning once, which is I think a pretty decent track record compared to my experience in USA. I could post a few dozen links about food safety issues in USA and sleezy practices to resell rotten meat at grocery stores and the like, not even talking about issues of GMOs and that sort of thing. And glued meat is super common in USA as well.

One rumor I've heard in TW that makes sense and may have to do with food quality is supposedly the mafia controls food on the island. Going to grocery stores in TW I found prices about the same as in USA, but then at night markets, etc, etc, food is stupid cheap, really almost the same price as in Vietnam. Supposedly the mafia controls food prices by selling restaurants/night market stands food at wholesale prices way cheaper than what grocery stores get it at, and this dynamic is kept so people eat out and use the night markets instead of cooking at home. In USA restaurants (I've worked at restaurants in USA and can tell stories about this as well...) most ingredients cost them the same as at grocery stores, or a lot of ingredients are just sourced at grocery stores.

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Re: My thoughts on food safety in Taiwan (Read before visiting Taiwan)

Post by Winston » July 15th, 2019, 4:34 am

One common complaint about Chinese food and Taiwanese food is that it's too oily. For some reason, Chinese and Taiwanese use a lot of oil when they fry their food. It's true. But what alternative is there? Is using butter better? I heard that cooking oils are modern and unhealthy. For thousands of years people used either butter or lard to cook food. Why did that change?
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Re: My thoughts on food safety in Taiwan (Read before visiting Taiwan)

Post by onethousandknives » July 15th, 2019, 6:39 am

Winston wrote:
July 15th, 2019, 4:34 am
One common complaint about Chinese food and Taiwanese food is that it's too oily. For some reason, Chinese and Taiwanese use a lot of oil when they fry their food. It's true. But what alternative is there? Is using butter better? I heard that cooking oils are modern and unhealthy. For thousands of years people used either butter or lard to cook food. Why did that change?
Steam it or boil it firstly. But also it's fairly easy to make a sort of psuedo-stir fry, I do this a lot in USA with my own cooking. A proper Chinese recipe might use 5-6 tbsp of oil. Often you can get by with 1 tbsp of oil, then just add water to steam the rest of the food after the oil visibly fries the outside of the food. One thing I noticed with a mainland Chinese restaurant I ate at in a factory town in VN, they used a lot oil, and essentially oil was the carrier for the flavors. I think from at least my limited impressions of Taiwanese food, it's less oily than food in the mainland, and sort of overall more bland/less spicy on the whole, but Taiwanese tend to use starch/sugar based sauces more, and in some cases used what seemed like steamed vegetables (ie, Buddhist vegetarian restaurants...) A lot of stuff reminded me a bit of Americanized Chinese food. Taiwanese mapo tofu is about the same as what you'd get at an Americanized Chinese restaurant, a starch based sauce one, whereas the mainland style is a spicy red oily dish.

I didn't find the oiliness worse in Taiwan than USA, it's just way different. In USA our sort of "staple foods" especially fast foods, are very oily/fatty, but are not dripping with oil. The other thing in USA is using a lot of cheese on everything, and having cheese based everything. So for example, mozzarella sticks, pizza, macaroni and cheese. Also a lot of mayonnaise use, with mayonnaise based sauces/salad dressings, again lots of oil. Even mashed potatoes might have lots of butter or cheese in them, too. Personally in Taiwan I liked the rice rolls or onigiri a lot as they were a lot healthier than anything I could find in USA for "on the go" style food at convenience stores and the like.

A big thing too in Taiwan, at least in Taipei is you get to walk everywhere. I drank with some Filipinos at my hostel who remarked "The reason people are so skinny here is they walk so much!" That alone makes it a healthier lifestyle than where I'm at in USA.

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