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Fish to Japan free of pesticide: exporter
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A Chinese seafood company allegedly involved in exporting pesticide-tainted frozen mackerel to Japan, said on Tuesday afternoon it had never bought, stored or used the chemicals during processing.

The company added that the 18 samples, including raw materials and packages that it had selected for tests, were free of pesticide.

"We started investigations into the mackerel products immediately after learning that a Japanese non-governmental testing organization detected fatal pesticides in our exports," said Miao Qiang, president of Weihai Yuwang Aquatic Foods Co. Ltd., based in the eastern Shandong Province.

Kouzai Bussan Co. Ltd., a Japanese frozen food company, said on Monday that pesticide was detected in frozen mackerel processed in and imported from China.

While the residue standard of dichlorvos for fishery products is set at 0.01 parts per million (ppm) under Japan's food sanitation law, 0.14 ppm of the pesticide was detected in frozen mackerel processed in China, according to Japanese media.

The mackerel was imported from Denmark and all supplementary materials except salt were provided by the Japanese company, said the Chinese company.

"We were shocked by the news. But with a view of protecting the consumers' health, our company has taken a series of protective measures, including suspending export of relevant products," Miao said.

"But the allegedly tainted products were exported eight months ago. It takes time to find out what happened to them. We hope both sides would cooperate to solve the problem."

On Feb. 8, without notifying the Japanese importer Shinko Zyorui Ltd. and the Chinese processing company, Kouzai Bussan Co. Ltd. sent two bags of product samples to a local non-governmental testing organization to analyze for pesticide residue.

Test results showed that among all 295 testing items, only the residue of dichlorvos -- an insecticide that can hurt the human nervous system -- failed to meet the Japanese standard.

On Feb. 17, the Japanese frozen food company ordered a recall of the products on its website and held a press conference on the issue the following day.

"We are discontent that Kouzai Bussan pulled our products off the shelves and ordered a recall before verifying the test results," said Miao.

He said his company had been processing products in strict accordance with both Chinese and Japanese food sanitation standards. In fact, the Japanese company offered processing techniques for the exported frozen mackerel and sent supervisors to the Chinese company during processing.

"I hope the Chinese and Japanese governments would carry out investigations to find out the truth as soon as possible." he said.

The recall came two weeks after Japan took alleged pesticide-tainted China-made dumplings off the shelves. The Japanese authorities said at least 10 people in the Hyogo and Chiba prefectures had become sick since December after eating dumplings produced by Tianyang Food Plant based in the northern Hebei Province.

In the past two weeks, Tianyang Food Plant has undergone numerous investigations from both Chinese and Japanese authorities concerning the "dumplings poisoning case". No problems, however, have ever been found in the food processing.

China's exported food and other products have been under foreign criticism since early last year, from wheat gluten to toothpaste to toys and tires. Some countries and regions implemented bans, which brought great losses to Chinese export enterprises.

China-made food has been exported to more than 200 countries and regions, and 99 percent of the products are up to standard, according to the white paper China's Food Quality and Safety, published last year by the State Council, the country's cabinet.

Despite the alleged poisoning case in Japan, citizens in the Republic of Korea still preferred food imported from China during their traditional Lunar New Year. A Korea Times article recently stated that "Though the dumplings poisoning case is still under criticism in Japan and many other countries, the Korean traditional festival cannot do without China's food."

Some Japanese media also called on the public to keep calm and refrain from being oversensitive about the poisoning case.

(Xinhua News Agency February 20, 2008)

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