TAIPEI–Health officials said Monday that imported soybeans will be tested for possible residue of a pesticide called glyphosate immediatly. Wu Hsiu-ying, deputy chief of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Tsai Shu jen, chief of the FDA’s food division, promised to take the new measure at the request of Legislator Lin Shu-fen, who said glyphosate has been excluded from tests of imported soybeans since 1996. Current safety tests can identify the residues of 251 different pesticides, but they do not include glyphosate, said Lin. That is despite the existence of a regulation on the amount of glyphosate residue allowed in soybeans — 10 parts per million — she said.
Warren Kuo, a professor of National Taiwan University’s Department of Agronomy, quoted a test report last week as saying that only one of16 samples of Argentine soybeans tested recently by a private German group contained less than 10 ppm of glyphosate. The 15 other samples all contained more than 20 ppm of the pesticide, with two registering a level of 96 ppm, said Kuo. Of the 2.4 million tons of soybeans imported to Taiwan each year, about 40 percent comes from Argentina and Brazil.
Most of the imported beans — 1.8 million tons — are used to make cooking oil, with the rest going to manufacturers of food and animal feed.
In 2005, the authorities tested imported soybeans and found that they contained between 0.23 ppm and 0.94 ppm of glyphosate, far lower than the 10 ppm threshold, said Wu. She described the pesticide as water-soluble and said any residue can be easily removed by rinsing. Tea Leaves, Juices, Milk for Fraud to be Inspected The Ministry of Health and Welfare will soon inspect tea leaves, fruit juices and milk sold in Taiwan to see if any products in those categories are being mislabeled to dupe consumers, Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta said Monday.
The investigation, which will follow intensive checks of edible oils, has targeted those items because they are the most likely to be misrepresented, Chiu said.
Taiwan, for example, sells more tea leaves than it produces, and the ministry wants to see if some imports are being passed off as domestically grown products, he said.
Food fraud has received widespread attention in Taiwan after two local edible oil producers were recently discovered to have adulterated their products with cheaper cottonseed oil to save production costs.
The ministry has required all edible oil producers to sign a document no later than Oct. 31 to guarantee that all raw materials and additives used in their products are accurately shown on the products’ labels.
It will launch an intensive week-long inspection of edible oils sold around the country on Nov. 1.
Random checks will follow, and manufacturers found to have mislabeled their products beginning Nov. 8 will be referred to prosecutors for possible prosecution on fraud charges.