Two pan-green camp legislators yesterday criticized the government's current inspection procedures for hairy crab imports, claiming they do not adequately protect public health.
Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lai Shin-yuan (
Huang and Lai said that 116 cases of the cholera vibrio virus were reported in China last month, but that inspections for the highly sought-after hairy crab (
Taiwan has been importing crabs from China in increasing numbers, and the huge trade has given rise to concerns that the cholera virus might enter Taiwan.
Worries are especially high now, since crabs are regarded as being at their tastiest in the fall.
In response to those concerns, the Department of Health (DOH) said that if the level of infection in China rose, they would implement checks for cholera on imported crabs.
According to Lai, crab imports from China reached 800,000kg last year, accounting for 52 percent of all crab imported into the nation.
Of these only 15 batches, or 13.6 percent, were tested for cholera, despite the fact that China is classified as a cholera-affected area.
Lai added that the nation's production of red crab, another high-end seafood, fell from 2.86 million kilograms in 1996 to just 248,000kg last year, even as imports of crabs from China increased fourfold over the same period. She said it was imperative that Taiwan protect its own fisheries in the face of this threat.
According to Lin Wen-fei (
Hsieh Ting-hung (
Meanwhile, President Chen Shui-bian (
Earlier this month, Hong Kong's survey of fish products found traces of the toxic chemical malachite green -- which can cause mutations and cancer -- in Taiwanese farmed salmon.
"The situation is critical," Chen said. "Taiwan produces annually 13,000 tonnes of grouper costing NT$2.75 billion [US$83.5 million]. We can't afford any loss caused by some dishonest merchants' illegal activities."
Chen demanded that the Council of Agriculture launch a comprehensive investigation at once.
Additional reporting by Chiu Yu-tzu