Taiwan recalls food products thought to have come from five blacklisted prefectures


Taiwanese health authorities have ordered a recall of all food products illegally imported from five Japanese prefectures affected by the 2011 earthquake and consequent nuclear disaster.

Food and Drug Administration Director General Chiang Yu-mei told reporters at the legislature that they ordered a recall of 294 food products illegally imported from the five prefectures after health investigators inspected over 3,000 questionable items.

Of the 294 items, 12 carried Chinese labels different from the actual place of origin, while investigators need more time to determine the origin of the remaining 282 because the Japanese labels do not specify where they were manufactured.

Chiang said it will be up to criminal investigators to determine whether it was Taiwanese importers or Japanese exporters who are at fault.

They also sent the questionable products to the Atomic Energy Commission for radiation examination. Regardless of the results, Chiang said it is still illegal to import food products from the five prefectures.

After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Taiwan banned food imports from Fukushima and nearby Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures, and has been conducting random radiation checks on 11 categories of imported foods.

The Food and Drug Administration announced last October that it was planning to introduce regulations requiring foods imported from Japan to carry prefecture-specific labels of origin, with some items needing to undergo radiation checks by Japanese authorities.

The drafted regulations were to take effect as early as Jan. 1 if no objections were filed within the 60-day window starting Oct. 29.

However, the measure did not come into force in January due to Japan’s concern.

Upset by what she called the FDA’s inaction, lawmaker Lin Shu-fen of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party filed a motion at a legislative committee Wednesday morning demanding that the FDA announce and implement the new regulations within two weeks.

The committee passed the motion unanimously.

Chiang said they could push forward the announcement of the regulations, but both sides need time to work out the details, adding that their goal is to implement the new measure by the end of June.

Minister of Health and Welfare Chiang Been-huan told the same legislative committee that they are studying the possibility of lifting the ban under the request of the Japanese government.