Taiwan imported food products from a total of 162 countries in 2013, according to the Central News Agency, citing the Ministry of Health and Welfare Food and Drug Administration. During the year, it imported 70% of its grains (i.e., wheat, rice). Most of the food shipments originated from Japan.
73 of those countries imported only coffee to Taiwan. In fact, those 73 countries imported 31,284 tons of coffee to keep the island caffeinated.
Due to the increase in imported food products, the Food and Drug Administration has stepped up inspections to ensure quality of the food. Most of the inspections involve Japanese products as they are the most commonly imported. The USA, China, Thailand, and Vietnam followed, respectively. However, the US imports the most food by total weight, mostly because of bulk shipments and meat products. It was followed by Brazil, Thailand, Australia, and mainland China.
The amount of food considered substandard from Japan was 0.7%, much lower than the 3.7% from Vietnam and 3.2% from mainland China. 1.7% of food from the US was found to be substandard, still lower than the 2.4% from Thailand.
Goji berries (wolfberries), ginseng, and jujube, as well as 18 types of traditional medicinal herbs accounted for the majority of food products from China that didn’t meet the ministry’s standards for pesticide levels. Popular fruits from Japan were found to contain excessive pesticide levels, and large quantities of tea failed tests.
The ministry claims that all products that do not meet Taiwan’s standards are either returned or destroyed and are not distributed to the public.