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ผู้เขียน หัวข้อ: Chinese hairy crab imports banned over excess carcinogens  (อ่าน 7319 ครั้ง)
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« เมื่อ: ตุลาคม 26, 2006, 11:16:43 PM »

Source: Taiwan Journal  World News    26/10/2006 21:10:38
 
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Annie Huang
Following detection of traces of carcinogens in Eriocheir sinensis crabs imported from China, the ROC Department of Health announced Oct. 18 that travelers arriving in Taiwan would no longer be allowed to bring this species of crab into the country and that stricter tests would be undertaken on commercially imported crabs.

 

Also known as Chinese mitten crabs and, in Chinese, as Shanghai hairy crabs, the crustacean is considered a delicacy of Jiangjhe cuisine and is prized for its "cooling"--yin--effects on the human body.

 

Top quality Chinese mitten crabs--a freshwater species which is born in the sea and returns there to breed--are said to be those from Yangcheng Lake in China's Jiangsu Province. Not far from Shanghai, the lake is renowned for the freshness of its water and richness of food sources available to the crabs. Crab season, from a culinary perspective, is autumn, when the meat is said to be especially plump and juicy. Local media reports have claimed that, while crabs are exported from China to numerous destinations--including Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, and European and American countries--as much as one-third of all hairy crabs are destined for the tables of Taiwan.

 

Because of the lake's prestige and the high prices commanded by its produce, crabs from other areas are frequently passed off as coming from Yangcheng. This, it is suggested, accounts for the unstable quality of crabs imported from China and, perhaps, for the latest contamination problems.

 

The decision to restrict imports of the crab was made at an emergency meeting after officials of the ROC Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection found nitrofurans in a batch of crabs imported from China between Sept. 1 and Oct. 12. These cancer-causing chemicals are prohibited for use in foods by most countries; the European Union, for example, has prohibited any use of nitrofurans in meats and aquacultural food products since 1997. In its Oct. 18 announcement, the DOH stated that nitrofurans were discovered in concentrations up to 4.7 parts per billion, almost 16 times Taiwan's acceptable level of 0.3 ppb.

 

One day after its initial announcement, the DOH released another test report, which revealed that six additional batches of crabs had been discovered with excessive levels of the toxin. This led officials to estimate that 3 tonnes of carcinogen-tainted crabs had already been consumed in Taiwan, local media reported.

 

A DOH spokesperson outlined the measures implemented following discovery of the contaminated crabs. In addition to removing all such crabs from retailers' shelves and restaurant kitchens, more stringent testing procedures were drawn up for future imports of crabs from China. In particular, rather than undergoing random testing as in the past, the six companies already found to have imported tainted crabs would be required to undergo testing of samples of every batch imported. Only after successful completion of five rounds of such tests would those companies return to the normal random tests along with all other companies. If any importer's crabs twice failed to pass this test, its products would be prohibited from entering Taiwan. "We sought to keep the gate open for consumers," the DOH spokesperson explained.

 

Local media reported that importers and distributors, including chain hypermarkets Geant and Carrefour, had suspended sales of contaminated products and had paid back consumers who had purchased the crabs. Yu Mei-hsin, spokesperson for the chain convenience store FamilyMart, which had sold such crabs before the tests were announced, said the company had voluntarily contacted consumers who purchased the crabs by direct order after hearing the news via local media. Monies were returned without asking for the products or purchase receipts, even though FamilyMart was careful in choosing products for sale, she said. The company had sold more than 600 crabs since Sept. 12.

 

Customs officials also started Oct. 18 to confiscate and destroy crabs carried by passengers arriving in Taiwan. In response to local media reports that travelers from China could bring 10 kilograms of food home with them to Taiwan, a DOH spokesperson clarified that travelers arriving from other countries could bring 10 kilograms of food but those from China could bring only 6 kilograms. This excluded meat and agricultural produce but, until the recent rule changes, included aquacultural products such as crabs.

 

A DOH employee stated that, between Oct. 19 and 22, the agency had received no applications for testing Chinese mitten crabs, in other words, entrepreneurs had suspended crab imports. According to media reports in Taiwan, however, the Yangcheng Lake Crab Trade Association in China announced that its members would abide by ROC government tests and regulations and expected to resume selling the crabs to Taiwan by the end of October. The PRC General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine promised Oct. 21 to initiate stricter tests on China's aquaculture produce, the agency's Web site stated.

 

Another casualty of the contaminated crabs episode was Hsiao Tung-ming, who was replaced Oct. 20 as director of the DOH Bureau of Food Safety for his delay in releasing the test results. Minister of Health Hou Sheng-mao appointed Director-General of the DOH Bureau of Food and Drug Analysis Chen Shu-kong to take over the position.

 
 
 
 
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