Tue, Jul 15, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Warning given over bacteria in mango ice

FOOD HYGIENE Tests on the popular snack taken from 20 food stands found that 12 of them contained dangerously high levels of certain types of bacteria

STAFF WRITER WITH CNA , TAINAN COUNTY

The Consumers' Foundation yesterday announced that 75 percent of mango ice sold in Taipei contained an excess of coliform -- which could create health problems for customers.

The foundation released the results of its examination of 20 food stands which serve mango ice. It said the mango ice from 12 stands contained an excess of probiotics.

According to health regulations, there should not be over 100,000 probiotics per milliliter, while the number of coliform per milliliter should be under 100.

The foundation said an overdose of probiotics or coliform could cause diarrhea and other diseases. Ice-shop owners who violate health standards could be fined between NT$30,000 to NT$150,000.

In related news, officials from Tainan County Government's Department of Agriculture said yesterday that the nation's mango exports have not been affected by the recent outbreak of SARS.

Tainan County -- the major mango producing area in the country -- exports about 3,200 to 3,500 tonnes of fresh mangoes to Hong Kong and China every summer, the largest overseas markets for mangoes, the officials said.

Some 1,000 tonnes of fresh mangoes are exported to Singapore every year, while about 100 to 150 tonnes have been shipped to Japan.

Although Japan has suspended its imports of mangoes from Taiwan this year in the wake of the SARS outbreak, the officials said that the suspension has not had any impact on mango exports or the overall mango business as exports to Japan are only a tiny part of the entire business.

Taiwan's mango production totals about 85,000 to 90,000 tonnes annually, with only about 5,000 tonnes, or 6 percent, being exported, Tainan County Magistrate Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) said during a recent meeting with officials from the Council of Agriculture.

Su called for the council to create export channels and build up brand names for Tainan County's fresh mangoes to help jump-start exports of the fruit.

"It is hoped that under the council's assistance, exports of Tainan mangoes will be able to grow to some 40 percent of the entire annual production," Su said.

Su also urged the council to establish a fruit-quarantine mechanism at the planned Tainan County agricultural products market center.

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