The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said that it rejected the entry into Taiwan of five brands of Japanese natto seized a day earlier at Taichung Port after they were found to contain packets of soy sauce from two Japanese prefectures from which food imports are banned.
The soy sauce packaged with the five brands of natto — Japanese fermented soy beans — which weighed a combined 187kg and were imported by the Taichung branch of Japanese supermarket chain Yumaowu Capita’n, came from Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures, the FDA said.
Taiwan banned food imports from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures after the meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.
Along with the import ban, the government in March 2011 also ordered that nine categories of food products from other parts of Japan be subjected to batch-by-batch radiation detection at the border — fresh vegetables and fruit; frozen vegetables and fruit; fresh aquatic products; frozen aquatic products; baby formula; dairy products; seaweed; tea leaves; and drinking water.
The FDA launched an inspection of food products from Japan sold in stores and supermarkets across Taiwan after it was discovered on Sunday that the soy sauce packaged with two brands of Japanese natto available in Taiwan was produced in Ibaraki.
The inspection, being conducted with the help of local health authorities in the nation’s 22 counties and municipalities, is expected to be completed within a week, the FDA said.
The inspection has led to the discovery of several soy sauce packages in natto products, as well as hotpot soup products originating from the five prefectures, it said.
The FDA has ordered that the 187kg of natto products must be returned to Japan, while the agency is to carry out careful checks on Yumaowu Capita’n to find out whether any other products sold at its outlets are from the five prefectures.
The FDA also called on all sellers of Japanese products to voluntarily pull any suspect imports from shelves as a precaution, while requiring exporters of Japanese food products to present documentation proving point of origin, it said.
Products that have already entered the nation and which are discovered to be from any of the five prefectures would be destroyed, and the importers would be fined, the FDA added.