Sun, Apr 06, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Customs hauls in chocolate bounty

By Hung Su-ching and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Chinese medicine doctor Wang Ya-hsiu takes a bite of the Big Thunder chocolate bar on March 14 at an undisclosed location.

Photo: Tsai Shu-yuan, Taipei Times

Customs officials have been forced to intercept packages of chocolate entering the nation from Japan because of a failure on the part of importers to declare the goods, the Food and Drug Administration said.

Taiwanese tourists to Kyushu have brought stashes of Big Thunder-brand chocolate back into the country after visits to Japan and others have ordered the chocolate from online shopping sites.

Customs officials said that numerous mail packages of Big Thunder, sometimes weighing more than 10kg, are stuck in customs due to incorrect documentation.

Officials estimate that 142 tonnes of the snack were imported last year, compared with 176 tonnes arriving in the first two months of this year and 87.5 tonnes last month.

Agency official Feng Ruenn-lan (馮潤蘭) said that under Article 30 of the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) all articles of goods, food additives and other items designated by the Ministry of Health and Welfare by law must be declared at customs.

However, foodstuffs weighing less than 6kg and imported for private use do not need to undergo inspection, Feng said.

If citizens exceed the 6kg limit, they will have to relinquish the excess amount at customs, Feng said, adding that such situations only arose if the person left this to the late stage of the customs checkpoint.

The agency said that during inspections of foodstuffs, officials must check if labeling is compliant with Taiwanese regulations.

Any labeling that is not in Mandarin, or that is non-compliant, which includes where the Mandarin labeling differs significantly from the original has to be relabeled before the product can be released by customs.

For example, 159 shipments of Big Thunder have being stopped at customs because of an overly small font on the labeling and discrepancies between Mandarin and the source language, officials said.

They added that all the products were passed after being corrected.

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