Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - Page 2 News List

FDA vows stricter checks on imports of birds’ nests

Staff Writer, with CNA

Imported edible dried and blood-red birds’ nests will be checked batch by batch for nitrite contamination, and those that are found to contain the preservative will not be allowed into the country, a health official said yesterday.

Two batches of birds’ nests — blood-red and dried — imported from Indonesia were recently found to be tainted with nitrite, said Tsai Shu-chen (蔡淑貞), a section chief at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“They have been returned or destroyed in line with Taiwan’s regulations,” she said. “Another batch is now awaiting inspection.”

Tsai said the FDA had stepped up its inspections on the sources of imported edible birds’ nests and had adopted a rigorous inspection procedure for the imported dried and blood-red products.

However, bottled birds’ nests products will not be subject to batch-by-batch inspection, mainly because nitrite residues can be removed in the processing of dried birds’ nests to make the drink, she said.

“In any case, the content of dried birds’ nests in the bottled product is very small, therefore, the product is of no particular concern,” Tsai said.

The addition of nitrite to meat products to fix the color is allowed, but its use is banned in other types of food, she said.

“With proper washing, nitrite residue can be removed,” she said.

Recent news wire reports said that birds’ nest products imported from Malaysia were pulled from store shelves in Zhejiang Province in China after they were found to contain excessive levels of nitrite.

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