Sun, Oct 22, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Aquatic import inspections to be closely monitored

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The Fisheries Agency will invite scholars and experts to join the monitoring of the long-term environmental influence of importing live aquatic products like Chinese hairy crabs as part of efforts to protect Taiwan's public health and environment, agency officials said yesterday.

Over the past week, the discovery of carcinogens in hairy crabs imported from China -- known locally as dazha crabs -- has triggered increasing public concern.

Most countries around the world tend to be very cautious when importing live aquatic products, the officials said, adding that the government would step up monitoring of entry of live aquatic products, including prevention of smuggling and release of the animals to the wild because of religious beliefs.

Nitrofurans

With the recent incident involving imported crabs, in which cancer-causing nitrofurans were discovered, the fisheries authorities were forced to launch a drive to reinforce its crab imports surveillance system.

Agency officials explained that intensified customs inspections on such products have been conducted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Bureau of Standards under the commission of the Department of Health in order to meet increasing consumer demand for quality and health safety.

Bigger samples

The size of the sample randomly selected for inspection in every batch of imports has also increased from 2 percent to 5 percent, the officials said, noting the ratio may be raised again if and when necessary.

Stressing the importance of food safety inspections, the FA said more efforts will be undertaken -- such as inviting independent inspectors and government testing units to assist in the work -- to ensure the safety of the products.

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