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ROC Central News Agency

Hong Kong dumps 200kg of Taiwan mangoes, citing COVID virus concerns

ROC Central News Agency

07/06/2022 11:57 PM

Taipei, July 6 (CNA) Hong Kong authorities said Wednesday that they had recalled and disposed of 200 kilograms of mangoes imported from Taiwan, after one sample fruit in the shipment was found to be contaminated with the COVID-19 virus.

Hong Kong's removal of the fruit from store shelves followed decisions by Macau to impose a one-week ban on each of two Taiwanese companies, with effect from June 30 and July 3, respectively, after traces of the COVID-19 virus were found on samples of their mango shipments to Macau.

In a press release Wednesday night, Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety (CFS) said that the COVID-19 virus had been found on the skin of one mango that was checked as sample in a shipment of 33 cartons weighing 200 kilograms in total.

The CFS said it had immediately instructed the distributor to stop all sales of the imported mangoes, remove them from store shelves, and dump them all.

According to a CFS spokesperson, the sample testing was part of Hong Kong's tightened inspections of imported mangoes from Taiwan since the COVID-19 virus was detected in the shipment to Macau.

"Samples of similar products will continue to be tested for COVID-19," the CFS added.

According to the World Health Organization, there is "currently no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 by eating food, including fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet and their consumption should be encouraged."

Macau's Municipal Affairs Bureau had said that it was testing samples from food imports for the virus and had found traces of the COVID-19 virus on mangoes from Taiwan and on other food products from Argentina, Poland, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said Wednesday night that it had not been notified of the issue by Hong Kong.

The CFS's handling of the matter was not based in science, given that there is currently no scientific evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted via packaged produce, the bureau said.

The bureau also noted that the CFS' press release had cited the WHO's statement that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted predominantly through droplets and is unlikely to be transmitted to humans via food consumption.

That reference is indicative of the fact that China, Hong Kong and Macau's testing of food packaging for the virus is contradictory to science, the bureau said.

To ensure unfettered trade, Hong Kong should follow proper risk control protocols that comply with international standards, the bureau said.

(By Yang Shu-ming and Shih Hsiu-chuan)


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