Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) yesterday told lawmakers that the ministry would not risk the health of Taiwanese by lifting a ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures near the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
Lin made the remarks at a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee yesterday morning, which was to review the ministry’s general budget for next year.
Amid reports that Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) last week asked the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus about the possibility of lifting the ban on agricultural products from the five prefectures — just days before the first round of the Taiwan-Japan Maritime Affairs Cooperation Dialogue Mechanism in Tokyo on Monday — Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) asked the minister if it was true the government planned to lift the ban as part of a trade-off.
Food and Drug Administration Director-General Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美) said that the council report to the DPP caucus was only to explain risks and that it has implemented strict food import controls at borders to help ensure food safety.
She said all food imports from Japan not from the five prefectures — Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba — must have a certificate of origin and a certificate proving they are free of radioactive contamination, adding that the agency would publish a products company name, if radiation readings were above legal tolerances.
“At present, we have no plans to lift the ban,” Lin said. “The ministry takes protecting the people’s health as its most important duty.”
After Chiang twice asked Lin to confirm that the government would not use lifting the ban as a negotiation tool in its talks with Japan on maritime affairs, Lin said that it would not.