Fri, Mar 27, 2015 - Page 3 News List

More than 300 food items pass radiation tests

FUKUSHIMA FEARS:The food scare began with the discovery of two soy sauce products imported from off-limits parts of Japan by a Taipei-based trading firm

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

More than 300 food products thought to have been imported under false pretenses have cleared radiation testing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported yesterday, as more potentially problematic products await testing.

The products were on a growing list of items thought to have been illegally imported from five Japanese prefectures near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

The number of Japanese food products subjected to testing for radioactive content exceeds the list of food items believed to have been imported to Taiwan with false origin labeling, FDA senior specialist Wang Te-yuan (王德原) yesterday morning told a news conference in Taipei.

As of 10am yesterday, 286 food products imported by 13 Taiwanese companies were thought to have been manufactured in Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma or Chiba prefectures. All foods from the region have been barred from import since the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011.

Six products were removed from the list yesterday after they were confirmed to have been produced outside of the five prefectures — or were repeats of items already included on the list, Wang said.

A total of 333 food products have passed the radioactive testing conducted by the Atomic Energy Council, up from 193 on Wednesday, Wang said, adding that all potentially contaminated products are legally required to be pulled off store shelves before today as a precautionary measure.

Under the current law, individuals or companies who import food items produced in the five Japanese prefectures or who file fraudulent customs declaration papers could face a fine ranging from NT$30,000 to NT$3 million (US$955 to US$95,526).

The radiation scare originated from the administration’s discovery earlier last month of two soy sauce products imported by a trading firm based in Taipei.

The items’ Chinese-language origin labels indicated that they were produced in Tokyo, but the Japanese labels attached underneath suggested they were actually manufactured in Chiba and Gunma, prompting a wider investigation of imported Japanese foods.

Turning to some implicated companies’ denial of responsibility for the fabricated origin labels, Wang said they would be spared from an inevitable fate of a permanent recall and destruction of their products — which are only subjected to a preventive recall at the moment — if they manage to obtain a place of origin certificate from the Japanese government.

A total of 104.4 tonnes of allegedly illegally imported foodstuffs have been sealed and confiscated thus far, pending further investigation.

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