Japan Fruit Was 2013’s Most Severe Food Safety Import Breach


Source: China Post

The Food and Drug Administration announced results for its review of imported food in 2013 yesterday, citing imported fruit from Japan tainted with pesticide reside as the most common product to breach food safety standards and that the nation has seen an explosion of imports in recent years.

The top three countries exporting food that breaches standards to Taiwan are Japan, China, and the United States. Japan’s fresh frozen fruits and China’s pharmaceutical food products rank the highest for the amount of food found not to meet product safety standards.

Statistics show that while Japan has a lower percentage of imports that breach food safety standards (0.7 percent) – compared with mainland China (3.2 percent), the United States (1.7 percent) and Vietnam (3.7 percent) – its imported fruit is more likely to have exceeded levels of pesticide residue. Tea leaves and fish products are other products that are often found to be in breach of food safety laws.

Japan totaled 123 batches of food in breach of safety standards, including 45 batches of frozen fruits, 38 batches of tea, 14 batches of packaged foods, 13 batches of frozen vegetables, and four batches of shellfish.

China totaled 94 batches of tainted goods, which included pharmaceutical food products accounting for 33 batches and 20 for frozen goods. The United States had 84 batches, with frozen fruits and edible preparations ranking the most common unqualified goods.

In response to legislators’ concern over regulatory measures for the recent Japanese food product scandal last week, Pan Chih-Kuan, director of the FDA’s Food Safety Division, said that the FDA will discuss potential cooperation schemes with Japan and will attempt to meet the Legislative Yuan’s demands.

Legislators have requested the FDA draft a proposal that regulates Japanese products exported to Taiwan, calling on them to include official origin labels and radiation test certificates within two weeks.

Provisionally preserved vegetables are ranked as the most frequent product to breach food safety standards, at 20 percent. Other food imports include: spices at 14.4 percent, natural colorings at 10 percent, dried vegetables at 7.6 percent, and other pharmaceutical foods, such as angelica root and goji, at 6.6 percent. The FDA reported that these goods have been listed as high-risk items, and will step up its investigations.

The FDA also said that 1.4 percent of foods were found to have breached the safety standards among 616,286 food and related products during last year’s border inspections, which is at least two times more than the numbers in 2013.

Pan said pesticide residue in fruit and vegetables, veterinary drugs in meat and fishery products, and preservatives and bleach residue in packaged products are the most common reasons for products to have breached hygiene regulations.

The products failing to meet Taiwan’s regulations have been returned or destroyed, and never entered Taiwan’s market, said Pan.

Authorities said that 520 coffee items were clear of any problems. The FDA also reported that imported goods have seen a dramatic rise in the last five years. While Taiwan only maintains a 3 percent food self-sufficiency ratio, the nation imports products from 162 countries, out of 193 countries worldwide.