About 30 percent of dried day lilies served at food stalls or small restaurants were found to contain levels of chemical residue that exceeded safety standards, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said yesterday.
The FDA last year collaborated with the Council of Agriculture and local health bureaus to expand the inspection of dried day lilies from manufacturers to retailers and restaurants.
FDA Northern Center director Chiu Hsiu-yi (邱秀儀) said a total of 633 dried day lily items were inspected by the FDA last year. Among them, 107 items failed to reach a 83.1 percent pass rate, which is an improvement compared with the 57.7 percent pass rate in 2012, the first year that day lilies were inspected.
FDA Northern Center division chief Wang Thu-Shui (王慈穗) said that “the pass rate of random inspections in the food processing industry and of wholesalers was 92.1 percent, but the pass rate of restaurants was only 69.7 percent.”
Wang said sulfur dioxide is a legal food additive that is often used as a preservative to maintain color and prevent rotting, but the residue level is not allowed to exceed 4 grams per kilogram at inspection.
Chiu said that NT$560,000 in fines were imposed on the manufacturers or retailers of the 107 failed items and that the failed items were recalled, confiscated or destroyed.
“During the day lily harvest season, some people might have seen day lilies growing and thought that they are very pretty with bright colors, mistakenly assuming that dried day lilies are also bright in color,” Chiu said. “However, they turn brown when dried, so consumers should choose brown ones or those with qualification marks.”
Wang said that exposure to high levels of sulfur dioxide can trigger asthma attacks or respiratory allergies in some people.
He said that people should soak dried day lilies in warm water for at least 30 minutes before boiling them.
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