No expired imported eggs were found to have entered the domestic market, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said yesterday, adding that it would initiate an inspection of more than 50 liquid egg processing factories in the nation within a week.
Facing a shortage of eggs earlier this year, the Ministry of Agriculture introduced a special egg import program to maintain steady supply at reasonable prices, but it has stirred controversy, including speculation on how local egg importers were decided and whether 54 million expired eggs were properly disposed of.
A case of imported eggs with an incorrect expiration date were recalled last week.
Photo courtesy of the New Taipei City Department of Health
Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) on Tuesday apologized for the disturbance caused to the public surrounding the egg import program and in the evening announced that he would resign from his post, but stated that the government was right in initiating the program.
FDA Deputy Director Lin Chin-fu (林金富) yesterday said the agency together with local health departments had inspected shell eggs and their labels at retailers nationwide from Thursday last week to Tuesday.
All 1,533 items passed the inspection, while 50 specimens had been sent for tests for veterinary drug residues, Lin said.
The FDA and the ministry on Tuesday began inspecting egg-washing factories. Among the six factories inspected on the first day, one had imported eggs from Thailand, but no abnormalities were detected at any of the factories, Lin said.
All of the imported eggs were tested batch-by-batch at border inspections, and those that failed the inspection were returned or disposed of, so they did not enter the domestic market, he said, adding that inspections at retailers by local health departments had not found any expired eggs.
INCORRECT EXPIRY DATES
Although there was a case of mislabeled imported eggs (eggs that are to expire late this month were labeled as expiring early next month), they still have a shelf life, so after paying a penalty, the company can still sell the eggs with the correct expiration dates or use them as liquid egg or for food products, Lin said.
The FDA yesterday would have completed an inspection of 13 storage locations, where the Ministry of Agriculture said the expired imported eggs are being stored, he said.
The inspections focused on whether the expired eggs are clearly marked and stored separately, and the refrigerated storage temperature, he said.
Meanwhile, the New Taipei City Department of Health yesterday said a liquid egg company in the city was found to have mixed eggs imported from three nations — Turkey, Brazil and the US — with domestic eggs and falsely labeled the liquid eggs as made in Taiwan between June and last month.
The liquid eggs were sold to three catering companies that service 13 schools, as well as 20 bakeries and other food processing companies in Taoyuan and New Taipei City, New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Liu He-jan (劉和然) said, adding that the eggs were not expired, but mislabeled.
Lin said that mixing eggs from different countries of origin as liquid egg is not illegal, but the company must list the nations according to the regulations, from the highest proportion to the lowest proportion.
The FDA would also initiate an inspection of the more than 50 liquid egg processing companies nationwide within the next week and advise them on the correct labeling methods, he said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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