The China Post news staff
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a national recall of a fermented soybean product on Sunday, after discovering that the product included a small package of soy sauce originating from a radiation-affected region of Japan. Radiation detection tests conducted by the Atomic Energy Council showed that the soy sauce had not been contaminated by nuclear substances, the FDA said. But the discovery of the Ibaraki-sourced soy sauce had caught authorities off guard, highlighting a loophole in Taiwan’s five-year ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures. Food products from Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures are banned over fears they may be contaminated with radioactive substances, following the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011. During a press conference on Sunday, FDA officials said they had asked all national retailers to recall products containing the soy sauce as a preventative measure. Any business that chose to keep the product in the market would be subject to a maximum NT$3 million penalty, health authorities said. Officials said the soy sauce had been sold by food importer Taicrown Corporation (太冠國際) to downstream distributors including Japanese restaurant chain Yoshinoya, RT-Mart, shopping malls SOGO, Shinkong Mitsukoshi and Far Eastern. The recalled fermented soybean product, called natto, had been manufactured by a Japanese company called KAJINOYA, FDA official Wu Ming-mei (吳明美) said. Wu said the importer was in the process of collecting related information and would provide further details to the FDA before 5 p.m. on Monday. According to media, Yoshinoya said its supplier provided safety certification for its imports, but that it had decided to pull the product from their menus regardless. SOGO and Shinkong Mitsukoshi both said Taicrown Corporation had yet to offer any explanations and both offered refunds to customers that had purchased the product. RT-Mart also issued a statement Sunday, stressing it had removed the natto product from its shelves last Friday after finding it suspicious during internal product inspections earlier that day.
Five other natto products imported by Taicrown have also been removed, and customers may receive refunds if they have any concerns, said RT-Mart. The current administration is planning to gradually relax restrictions on Japanese food imports from the Fukushima nuclear disaster zones, but faced violent protests at public hearings last month.