Japan strawberries seized for excess pesticides legal under new rules

Japan strawberries seized for excess pesticides legal under new rules
Japan strawberries seized for excess pesticides legal under new rules

Taipei, April 2 (CNA) A half-ton shipment of imported Japanese strawberries was recently intercepted at Taiwan’s border for excessive pesticide residues would have been legal under relaxed residue limits that took effect on April 1.

In its weekly report on border seizures, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the 472-kilogram shipment was seized after sample testing on March 14 detected residues of the insecticide flonicamid at a concentration of 0.02 parts per million.

Prior to April 1, the maximum residue limit for flonicamid on strawberries was zero.

Japanese strawberries were subjected to batch-by-batch border inspections between June 1, 2023 and April 30 of this year after repeatedly failing FDA inspections, mainly due to excessive amounts of pesticides.

At a news briefing Tuesday, FDA Deputy Director-General Lin Chin-fu (林金富) said that from Sept. 25, 2023 through March 25 of this year, 31 of the total 767 shipments of imported Japanese strawberries, or 4.04 percent, did not meet Taiwan’s safety standards and were confiscated.

In light of the violations, the FDA will continue batch-by-batch inspections of Japanese strawberries for an unspecified period after April 30, and will continue to impose one-month bans on Japanese firms that violate the rules, Lin said.

In late January, the FDA announced a proposal to relax restrictions on flonicamid and three other pesticides — acequinocyl, chlorfenapyr and mefentrifluconazole — which are commonly used on strawberries in Japan.

Taiwan had already set residue limits for the four pesticides when applied to a range of other crops, but not for strawberries, meaning that the de facto residue limit was zero.

Under the FDA’s new rules, which took effect on April 1 after a 60-day period for collecting public feedback, the maximum residue limits were set at 1.0 ppm for acequinocyl, 0.5 ppm for chlorfenapyr, 0.7 ppm for flonicamid, and 1.5 ppm for mefentrifluconazole .

Other seized items in this week’s FDA food safety report included a 72,000-kg shipment of Indonesian mung beans, 2,904 kg of yams from China, and 3,363 kg of frozen northern snakehead fish from Vietnam.

All the seized items were either destroyed or sent back to their country of origin, according to the FDA.

(By Tseng Yi-ning and Matthew Mazzetta)


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