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Tainted Chinese mullet roe intercepted at border for 1st time

02/20/2024 04:12 PM
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A packet of frozen Chinese mullet roe which contains the carcinogenic chemical malachite green. Photo courtesy of Taiwan Food and Drug Administration Feb. 20, 2024
A packet of frozen Chinese mullet roe which contains the carcinogenic chemical malachite green. Photo courtesy of Taiwan Food and Drug Administration Feb. 20, 2024

Taipei, Feb. 20 (CNA) A batch of over 14,000 kilograms of frozen Chinese mullet roe containing the carcinogenic chemical malachite green has been intercepted at Taiwan's border for the first time, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) said Tuesday.

The tainted frozen mullet roe will be returned to the country of origin or destroyed, the TFDA said in its latest roundup of 48 substandard products stopped at the border recently.

Products also intercepted during recent border inspections included milk shortbread from Vietnam, crisp cookies from Indonesia and fresh nectarines from Australia.

Samples of the 14,364 kg of mullet roe, imported by Fuyu Fishery Co., Ltd. based in Hsinchu County, were found to contain 0.6 ppb of malachite green -- a dye that is both carcinogenic and genotoxic, the TFDA said.

TFDA Deputy Director-General Lin Chin-fu (林金富) told CNA that malachite green has been permitted for use in ornamental fish, but not edible ones.

He added that the agency will increase the rate of random inspection of the company's imports.

According to Lin, seven shipments of porcelain tableware from Japan were also detected to contain excessive levels of heavy metal residues -- part of eight substandard batches intercepted from 6,523 shipments randomly checked over the past six months.

Lin said the random inspections of the imported Japanese porcelain tableware will be increased between Feb. 26 and Aug. 25.

Yen Tzung-hai (顏宗海), an attending physician in the Department of Nephrology of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Linkou, said malachite green is an antibacterial agent, but animal test results show that it enhances the risk of liver cancer if consumed in large amounts.

Yen urged the authorities to find out why the substance was found in the batch of mullet roe imported into Taiwan for the first time.

(By Flor Wang and Shen Pei-yao)

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