The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) reassures the public that our integrated food safety system is based on science and risk analysis ("Food items: Need for stringent checks" by Mrs Padmini Kesavapany; June 5).
All food imports are required to comply with our safety standards and requirements.
They are subjected to regular inspections and sampling to test for a wide range of hazards that are known to be associated with food.
In the case of maleic acid detected in Taiwanese food products, we would like to explain that maleic acid is a raw material for industrial use and is not allowed to be used in the manufacturing of food.
It is not a known food-borne hazard and hence is not routinely tested for as part of food safety checks by the authorities worldwide.
The detection of maleic acid in Taiwanese food products was due to a tip-off received by the authorities.
Nonetheless, following the detection of maleic acid in food products by the Taiwanese authorities, the AVA immediately conducted surveillance of similar food products from Taiwan.
The AVA has informed the importers of the affected products to withdraw them from sale immediately, and the withdrawal has been completed.
The AVA is monitoring the situation closely.
We are continuing with our surveillance of products from Taiwan to ensure that they do not contain maleic acid.
Yap Him Hoo (Dr)
Group Director, Quarantine & Inspection Group
for Chief Executive Officer