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Japanese food found illegally imported to Taiwan not covered by import ban in Hong Kong

     Responding to media enquiries on the illegal import of food products to Taiwan from the five prefectures in Japan prohibited by the Taiwanese authorities, a spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said today (March 25) that the CFS has taken immediate follow-up actions in response to relevant media reports. According to online information available on the website of the Taiwanese authorities, the food items in question were not covered by the import ban imposed by Hong Kong.

     "Following the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident in Japan in 2011, the CFS, according to a risk-based approach, has enhanced radiation testing on food imported from Japan at import, wholesale and retail levels. Since then, more than 240 000 samples of Japanese food have been tested as at today. Except for three unsatisfactory samples of vegetables from Chiba found on March 23, 2011, the test results of all samples were satisfactory," the spokesman said.

     "To address public concern, the CFS is proactively contacting the management of major supermarkets and chain retail outlets to learn if the products concerned have been imported into Hong Kong. If such products are found, the CFS will step up sample-taking for radiation test. Inspection at import and retail levels will also be enhanced to see if information provided on the labels of food imported from Japan is consistent with that (including the place of origin and prefecture in Japan) provided by traders. The CFS will take appropriate actions if breaches are found."

     According to Section 61 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132), if any person falsely describes the food or misleads as to the nature, substance or quality of the food on a label of the food sold by him, he shall be guilty of an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and six months imprisonment upon conviction. If the country of origin stated on a food label is found falsely described, the department will consider taking out prosecution in accordance with the above-mentioned legislation.

     "The CFS will continue to closely monitor the situation and keep in close contact with the Taiwanese authorities over the issue. Appropriate actions will be taken to safeguard public health," the spokesman added.

     In response to the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident in Japan in 2011, the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene issued an order under Section 78B of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) to prohibit import of vegetables and fruits, milk, milk beverages and milk powder from the five most affected prefectures of Japan (namely Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Gunma). The CFS also prohibits the import of all chilled or frozen game, meat and poultry, all poultry eggs and all live, chilled or frozen aquatic products from the five prefectures to Hong Kong, unless accompanied by a certificate issued by the competent authority of Japan certifying that the radiation levels do not exceed the Guideline Levels. The aforesaid Order is still in force. Anyone found guilty of contravening any terms of the Order is liable to a maximum fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for 12 months.

Ends/Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Issued at HKT 21:53


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