Fri, Apr 03, 2015 - Page 3 News List

DPP accuses FDA of cover-up over Japanese imports

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Liu Chien-kuo, right, and Yang Yao talk to journalists at a press conference in Taipei yesterday. The DPP accused the Food and Drug Administration of instigating a coverup of the illegal import of radioactive food products from Japan.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday accused the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of a cover-up, showing copies of six official reports on illegal imports of radioactive food products that were rejected by ranking agency officials.

“Since March 4, an FDA specialist surnamed Ko (柯) and his supervisor, Huang Ming-kun (黃明坤), have filed at least six reports showing that some food products may have been illegally imported from areas in Japan where they may have been exposed to radioactive contamination,” DPP Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) told a news conference cohosted by his colleague, Yang Yao (楊曜).

“However, all those reports were rejected by higher ranking officials in the agency. This makes us wonder if the FDA is deliberately trying to cover up the problem, while putting the nation’s food safety at risk,” Liu said.

Since the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in 2011, Taiwan has banned imports of food items from the surrounding areas, including Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures.

According to the documents, Ko filed six reports — on March 4, 10, 16, 17 and 18 — and Huang approved them before forwarding them to higher officials.

In the reports, Ko said that a trading firm had illegally imported food items from the five prefectures, and asked that the FDA void the firm’s import license and issue a product recall.

However, the report was rejected four times by the agency’s regional administration center senior specialist, Wang Chen-yi (王貞懿), and once by the center’s deputy director, Wang Te-yuan (王德員), before it eventually reached center director Feng Jun-lan (馮潤蘭) on the sixth attempt.

While Feng approved the report, he put it aside and did not take action.

Pointing at the documents, Liu said that the supervisors even left notes and comments on the reports, such as “Where is the evidence” and “So what,” when they rejected it.

“On March 17, an official who did not sign his or her name circled the words ‘void’ and ‘destroy,’ and left a note saying that the two are ‘contradictory,’” Liu said.

“Well, the specialist was recommending that the [FDA] ‘void’ the company’s import license and ‘destroy’ products already on store shelves. I do not know what is the problem with the official who left the note,” the lawmaker said.

Moreover, after the illegal imports were exposed, it was Huang who was penalized.

“But he [Huang] was actually the one who found the problem and forwarded the report to his supervisor. What mistake did he make?” Liu asked.

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