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Substandard Chinese dried chili products seized at Taiwan border

05/14/2024 03:39 PM
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Photo courtesy of Food and Drug Administration May 14, 2024
Photo courtesy of Food and Drug Administration May 14, 2024

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) Two shipments of dried chili products imported from China totaling 19,930 kilograms were recently intercepted at Taiwan's border after being found to contain excessive pesticide residue, Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) said Tuesday.

A shipment of 3,980 kilograms of dried chili slices and a shipment of 15,950 kilograms of dried chili flakes were found to contain chlormequat -- a pesticide that can be used as a plant growth regulator -- at concentrations of 0.17 and 0.07 parts per million (ppm), respectively, exceeding the non-detectable limit, TFDA Deputy Director-General Lin Chin-fu (林金富) said.

Accepted for inspection on April 23 and subsequently either destroyed or returned to their country of origin, the two shipments of contaminated dried chili products were both imported from the Chinese company Tianjin Yongsheng Agricultural Product First Making Co., Ltd. by Sin Chon Food Co. Ltd. in Yunlin County, according to the information provided by the TFDA.

From Nov. 6, 2023 to May 6, 2024, 120 shipments of chili powder-related products imported from China were inspected at the border. Of these, 24 shipments failed food safety tests, mainly due to the presence of Sudan dyes and the pesticides chlormequat and clothianidin, Lin added.

Chili-related products, regardless of their country of origin, will be subject to shipment-by-shipment border inspections until March 5, 2025, according to Lin.

The measure was implemented following a headline-grabbing incident in February and March that involved the widespread use of Chinese chili powder contaminated with Sudan red dyes in Taiwan.

In addition to the two latest shipments of contaminated dried chili products, 16 other food and drink shipments were also intercepted at the border, according to the weekly report.

Of those 16 seized shipments, five shipments of Spanish alcohol-free wine with the brand name "Bodega Win" tested positive for sulfur dioxide, a bleaching agent prohibited from being used in drinks. Two shipments of fresh broccoli from Vietnam were found to contain excessive amounts of the pesticide flonicamid.

Photo courtesy of Food and Drug Administration May 14, 2024
Photo courtesy of Food and Drug Administration May 14, 2024

The TFDA also said that a shipment of durian ice cream imported from Singapore also landed on the list of seized products due to a high bacterial count.

A concentration of 21,000 colony-forming units per gram (CFU/g) of enterobacteriaceae -- a family of bacteria, some of which cause sickness -- was detected.

When asked what could cause the high concentration of enterobacteriaceae, which significantly exceeds the limit of 10 CFU/g, Lin told CNA that this 1,296-kilogram shipment was allegedly contaminated because of substandard hygiene standards during the manufacturing process.

Lin said that individuals with relatively weak gastrointestinal systems might experience symptoms after consuming the ice cream.

(By Sunny Lai)


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