Legislators slam DOH over truffle confusion


The China Post news staff

Although it is common knowledge that chocolate truffles don’t actually contain any truffle ingredient, the Department of Health (DOH) has all but become a national laughingstock after it publicly denounced the delectable snack yesterday for “misleading” the public and threatened to remove it from shelves. The popular Valentine’s Day gift was almost forcibly excluded from buyers after the DOH determined that the term “chocolate truffles” might mislead the public into believing they were actually getting a taste of the highly esteemed fungi. In fact, the chocolates are called as such due to their physical similarity to truffles and nothing else. However, the DOH saw fit to ban the product after presuming that it violated Article 19 of the Food and Drug Administration Act, which stated that “the labeling, promotion or advertisement of foods, food additives or food cleansers shall not be false, exaggerated or misleading.” The motion has caused many legislators to mock the health department’s lack of commonsense, although it appears the DOH concerns were not entirely unwarranted. A reported handful of consumers yesterday informed local media that they were under the assumption that truffles were used in the chocolates. “I was really confused when I ate chocolate truffles because it seemed so affordable for something that was apparently so luxurious,” a woman surnamed Yu expressed to local media yesterday.

Another female consumer, Chen, said because she had never had truffles before, she wasn’t able to know for sure what differentiated chocolate truffles from other chocolates or if it contained the fungi. However, such confusion does not necessarily legitimize the DOH actions. As Kuomintang (KMT) legislator and self-professed “chocolate lover” Hsieh Kuo-liang pointed out, too many products potentially bear “misleading titles” due to product history, way of manufacture or simple physical resemblance. Legislator Chou Shou-shun agreed, listing items such as “sun cakes,” “pearl (bubble) tea,” and “French bread” as edibles famously devoid of actual sun or pearl ingredients, or a “Made in France” origin for that matter. Hsieh urged the DOH to visit a simple Wikipedia page for “chocolate truffles” to prevent embarrassing itself.

Food and Drug Administration Director General Kang Jaw-jou defended the health department by claiming it was not entirely unaware of the origins of “chocolate truffles,” pointing out that there are such products on the market that actually do contain truffle ingredients. Such products are sold at a much higher price than chocolates that don’t, Kang explained, and all the department was concerned about was whether consumers were able to easily spot the difference based on marketing. The director general added that as the chocolate truffles did not pose an immediate threat to the public, the FDA will not punish any companies in the meantime.