Taipei, April 19 (CNA) A shipment of fresh strawberries from Japan’s Tochigi prefecture was seized at the border due to excessive levels of pesticide residue, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Tuesday.
This is the first batch of agricultural produce imported from a Japanese prefecture previously subject to a food import ban in Taiwan to fail a border inspection, according to the FDA.
Taiwan on Feb. 21 lifted the ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster that had been in place for 11 years.
Fukushima, where the disaster occurred, and neighboring Gunma, Chiba and Ibaraki were also subject to the ban.
The shipment of 88.8 kilograms of fresh strawberries was confiscated after sample testing conducted on March 17 found them to contain the novel pesticide flonicamid at 0.15 parts per million (ppm), exceeding Taiwan’s 0.01 ppm maximum residue limit for flonicamid, the FDA said.
FDA Food Safety Division official Lin Hsu-yang (林旭陽) said that since the ban was lifted, 19 shipments of food and agricultural produce have been imported from Ibaraki, Gunma and Tochigi and sample testing found none of them to contain radiation contamination, although an excessive level of pesticide residue was found in the latest shipment of fresh strawberries from Tochigi.
The FDA has begun conducting batch-by-batch inspections of strawberries imported from Japan as excessive pesticide residue has been repeatedly detected in Japanese strawberries.
The agency also requested that Japan provide a written explanation of the high levels of pesticide found in its strawberry shipments to Taiwan by May 6 but has not yet received a response, according to Lin.
Also Tuesday, the FDA released a list of 11 items that failed its latest border inspections, including dried porcini mushrooms from France, ready to cook chicken soup packets from Malaysia, artichoke extract powder from Canada, dried galangal tubers from Vietnam, seaweed salt from Japan, Thai red tea from Thailand, green tea chutney from Myanmar, frozen oilfish roe from Fiji and a red tea product from India.
All problematic products were either returned to their country of origin or destroyed in accordance with Taiwan’s regulations, according to the agency.
(By Chiang Hui-chun and Evelyn Kao)


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