New food import rules to take effect May 15: Taiwan health ministry

A woman shops for vegetables at a market in Taipei

TAIPEI - Japanese food imports must enclose a certificate of origin and radiation residue test results issued by authorised agencies in order to be cleared for import to Taiwan, announced the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) yesterday, saying the new regulations are set to take effect on May 15.

MHW's announcement established that imported Japanese food products must carry documents and radiation residue results issued by the Japanese government, agencies approved by the Japanese government ,or documents authorised by Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The origin documents must clearly state the name of the city or prefecture of origin in order to be accepted by Taiwan.

The five prefectures affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster still face restrictions on import to Taiwan. Those prefectures are Fukushima, Gumma, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Chiba.

Fruit produce from Miyagi, Iwate, Tokyo, and Ehime; tea products from Tokyo, Shizuoka, Aichi, and Osaka; dairy products, sweets, crackers and grain products from Miyagi, Saitama, and Tokyo will all be regulated and must bear the proper radiation residue test results issued by the authorised agencies.

The Japanese products that are to undergo these new regulations were chosen based on radiation residue test results issued by customs officials over the past four years.

The MHW has stated that the new rules are to guarantee food safety for infants and children.

The aforementioned Japanese food imports will continue to be strictly regulated and tested before the regulations come into effect.

The FDA will publish new regulations on its official website presently, and it advises importers to familiarize themselves with them.

Perplexed Japan Demands Scientific Evidence

Japanese authorities remain puzzled about Taiwan's strict rules on it food imports, and has reportedly asked Taiwan whether it had scientific evidence to justify its new onerous regulations.

Komatsu Michihiko, head of the Tokyo-based Interchange Association, Japan pointed out that 3 million tourists from Taiwan visit Japan every year to enjoy attractions and food, yet Taiwan implements regulations on Japanese food imports.

"Taiwan's policies are unbelievable," Komatsu commented.