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Taiwan rejects some US wheat over pesticide residue
TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan has rejected 9,000 tonnes of U.S. wheat after residue from a prohibited agricultural pesticide was found in a recent shipment, a senior food safety official said on Sunday.

The move sparked local media reports that wheat suppliers could baulk at selling shipments to Taiwan, which is virtually reliant on imports to meet its milling needs, for fear of their cargoes being rejected.

Hsieh Ting-hung, deputy director of the food safety department told Reuters customs officials discovered residue from malathion, a pesticide, in a shipment of U.S. wheat some 10 days ago.

But he declined to comment on reports of possible adverse reaction among suppliers, saying that the impact on wheat supply would be "minimal" and that he expected shipments of U.S. wheat to continue.

Hsieh said that while Taiwan currently does not permit any detectable traces of the pesticide residue in wheat, the government was moving towards a policy of allowing small detectable amounts.

"For now, we hope that in future suppliers can meet our regulations," said Hsieh, who gave no further details on the plan.

Taiwan is the seventh-largest importer of U.S. wheat, according to the U.S. Wheat Associates. In the past, its purchases of U.S. wheat have averaged about 1 million tonnes a year.

Codex Alimentarius, the international standards-setting body for pesticide residues, last year adopted new, sharply reduced tolerances for malathion residues on wheat and wheat flour, according to the U.S. Wheat Associates Web site.

The new standards permit 0.5 ppm and 0.2 ppm, down from the previous tolerances of 8.0 ppm and 2.0 ppm, said the associates.

The contaminated mid-gluten wheat was part of a 40,000-tonne shipment from the United States, said a report in the Liberty Times on Saturday.

The newspaper quoted an official from the Taiwan Flour Mills Association, the island's main wheat buying organisation saying, if suppliers baulked at offering to sell to Taiwan over this issue, it could lead to a shortage of flour by the end of August.

The report pointed to a failed tender last week by the group to secure suppliers for a nearly 90,000-tonne shipment due for delivery at the end of August because of supplier reluctance.

Traders and officials had said the tender failed due to price considerations.
MGR Archive 17.7.2007
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