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Seasoning imported by TGI Fridays rejected at Taiwan border

11/28/2023 05:41 PM
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A packet of TGIF Blackening Spice GMO Free 20/1 LB (D). Photo courtesy of FDA
A packet of TGIF Blackening Spice GMO Free 20/1 LB (D). Photo courtesy of FDA

Taipei, Nov. 28 (CNA) Seasoning imported by restaurant chain TGI Fridays has been blocked from entering Taiwan at the border because it was found to contain excessive levels of a carcinogen, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) said Tuesday.

TFDA deputy chief Lin Chin-fu (林金富) said the batch of "TGIF Blackening Spice GMO Free 20/1 LB (D)" imported by Handcrafted Restaurants Ltd. (formerly T.G.I Friday's (Taiwan) Inc.) from the United States was found with excessive levels of ethylene oxide (EtO).

As with all imported food items that do not pass border tests, the 453 kilograms of the product, which was sent for testing on Nov. 2, will have to be returned to its country of origin or destroyed, Lin said.

According to information listed on the Ministry of Environment's website, EtO is a carcinogen and can cause hereditary disorders or impact fertility.

Other imported goods seized at the border in recent weeks included black quinoa from Peru, which was sent for testing on Oct. 24, and green pepper powder from China, which was sent to be tested on Oct. 30, the TFDA said.

The results of these and other imported products that did not comply with Taiwan's standards in previous weeks were not made public until Tuesday.

Meanwhile, products imported by Handcrafted Restaurants Ltd. will now be subject to reinforced random batch inspections, which means an inspection rate of 20-50 percent, according to the TFDA.

But inspections of seasonings or sauces in general imported from America will continue to be inspected on a regular randomly-selected basis, meaning an inspection rate of 2-10 percent.

Meanwhile, as 22 batches of Indonesian sauces were intercepted at the border between Jan. 1 and Oct. 28 this year, the TFDA has asked Indonesian authorities for a written description of measures taken to improve the situation, which was not received by the Nov. 27 deadline.

Lin said the TFDA will once more write to Indonesian authorities to ask for a reply, and will consider suspending the imports of goods from Indonesian manufacturers that failed customs inspections if a reply is not received by mid-December.

(By Shen Pei-yao and Bernadette Hsiao)

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