Ban on Taiwan products is about health, says Palace
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine ban on 15 Taiwanese products contaminated with maleic acid has nothing to do with the May 9 fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman, Malacañang said Monday.
Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesperson, said the ban was a preemptive measure to stop the products from being smuggled into the country. None of the products is available in the Philippine market.
Lacierda said the ban was imposed by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) following a scientific evaluation.
“It has nothing to do with politics. It has nothing to do with the present situation that we’re in with Taiwan. It’s as simple as that,’’ he said in a Malacañang briefing. “It has everything to do with the health of the Filipino citizens.’’
FDA Acting Director General Kenneth Hartigan-Go explained that maleic acid is not an approved additive for manufacturing food products. He said long-term consumption of high levels of maleic acid could harm the kidney.
The Taiwanese food products are Hong Tapioca Starch, Redman Black Tapioca Pearl, Sun Right Indica Rice Powder, Top 1 Tapioca Pearls, Tea World Tapioca Starch Ball, Unbranded Starch Ball, Ding Long Tapioca Pearls, Sun Chi Noodles, T & M Resources Corp. Tapioca Pearls, Pure Tea Tapioca Pearls (White), Pure Tea Tapioca Pearls (Black), Full Free Green Tea Tapioca Ball, Full Free Yam Tapioca Ball, Long Kow Vegetarian Instant Rice Noodle and Long Kow Rice Noodle with Thick Soup.
He said Taiwanese food products contaminated with maleic acid were tested and reported by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore.
Go noted that the Taiwanese government had taken action against the food manufacturers and suspended the sale and distribution of the products.
Tension between the Philippines and Taiwan ran high over the fatal shooting of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shi-chen by Philippine Coast Guards in the waters off Balintang Channel in northern Philippines on May 9.
Taipei froze the hiring of new Filipino workers, expelled Manila’s envoy, suspended the travel of Taiwanese to the Philippines and conducted military drills in disputed waters in a flurry of sanctions on Manila, and Taiwanese youngsters attacked Filipino workers.
Quoting Go, Lacierda said none of the food products was registered with the FDA or is available in the country.
The ban is a “proactive measure’’ to protect the public from the possible smuggling in of the products, he added.
Meanwhile, Lacierda expressed hopes that Taipei’s sanctions on Manila would be lifted soon, but said that both parties would defer to a parallel investigation by Philippine and Taiwanese authorities of the fatal shooting of the fisherman.
“Hopefully, the situation with Taiwan would be fixed,’’ he said.
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