Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tests for residual pesticide on Chinese bell peppers confiscated from shipments in mid-May confirm that they did not meet Taiwanese safety standards, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said.
It said its harbor branch in Chiayi County’s Putai Township (布袋) received an anonymous tip alleging that six import firms were trying to exploit a window in domestic bell pepper production by importing bell peppers grown in Shandong Province, China.
The tipster said the importers knew the Chinese peppers might fail pesticide residue tests and so they would place produce more likely to pass inspection at the front of the cargo containers.
The Putai branch formed a taskforce to verify the tip, and conducted raids at the Greater Kaohsiung harbor on June 10, 12, 17 and 18, the Greater Taichung harbor on June 10 and Keelung harbor on June 18.
Eight cargo crates of bell peppers — totaling 110,000kg — were confiscated in the raids, coast guard officials said.
“FDA officials accompanying us on the raids took samples of the produce on-site and forwarded the samples to their labs for testing,” the CGA officials said.
According to the FDA, a majority of the bell peppers confiscated during the raid had excessive traces of pesticide, with Pyriproxyfen, Fipronil, alpha endosulfan, Chlorfenapyr and Burpirimate residue exceeding safety pesticide residual amount by up to 10 times.
The test also turned up traces of the banned As the shipment of contaminated bell peppers was confiscated before it entered customs, none of the produce entered the local distribution chain, coast guard officials said.
However, since the peppers did not enter the local market, the importers could not be fined and the shipment was returned to its place of origin.
Wu Shih-cheng (吳石城), the class leader for Chiayi County’s bell pepper production and sales, said a majority — up to 70 percent — of domestic bell peppers are grown in the county, with the usual harvest period running from November to June.
During the planting period, there may be some shortages, Wu said.
China is well known for its blatant misuse of pesticide and its products are not as trustworthy as Taiwan’s, which have to meet the government’s Certified Agricultural Standards, he said.