Three shipments of olive oil from Spain and Italy have been denied entry into Taiwan after the oil was found to contain the unauthorized coloring agent copper chlorophyllin during customs inspections, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said yesterday.
The largest shipment was of 6,000kg of olive pomace oil from the Spanish brand Vidoria.
The other two were 2,160kg of Santagata olive pomace oil and 54.96kg of Castello extra virgin olive oil, both from Italy.
Olive pomace oil is a cheaper form of olive oil pressed from the residue left after producing virgin olive oil.
The agency increased border inspections of cooking oil imports in November last year, when copper chlorophyllin was detected in certain imported products sold on the local market, including those supplied by Vidoria.
Vidoria olive oils are currently subject to batch-by-batch inspection, said Feng Jun-lan (馮潤蘭), head of the FDA’s Northern Center for Regional Administration.
The agency is to step up inspections of the olive oils and olive pomace oils brought in by the importers of the other two batches to 20 percent of their shipments, Feng said.
The government began late last year to pay closer attention to the coloring agent, which is not authorized for use in edible oils in Taiwan, following a domestic edible oil scandal.
Oils produced in Taiwan were found to be adulterated, and some companies tried to pass off cheaper oils as olive oils by adding copper chlorophyllin, which made them look more like olive oils.
Meanwhile, in related news, shipments of fresh strawberries from Japan have been found to be tainted with excessive pesticide residues.
The residues were found on three shipments of strawberries weighing a total of 43.2kg brought in by three different importers.
All three shipments were from Japanese trading company Meiko Trading Co, and it was the third time fresh strawberries shipped by Meiko failed border checks, Feng said yesterday.
Because of the previous problems, measures have been taken to screen each batch of Meiko Trading’s strawberries shipped to Taiwan, Feng said.
In addition, a shipment of 59kg of fresh grapes imported from Meiko Trading also tested positive for excessive pesticide residues, according to the FDA.