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Flawed olive oils imported from Spain, Italy banned from Taiwan

TAIPEI -- Three shipments of olive oil from Spain and Italy have been denied entry into Taiwan after they were found during customs inspections to contain the unauthorized coloring agent copper chlorophyllin, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said yesterday.

The largest shipment was of 6,000 kilograms of olive pomace oil from the Spanish brand Vidoria.

The other two were 2,160 kilograms of Santagata olive pomace oil and 54.96 kilograms of Castello extra virgin olive oil, both from Italy.

Olive pomace oil is a cheaper form of olive oil pressed from the residue left after producing virgin olive oil.

The FDA has stepped up border inspections of cooking oil imports since November, when copper chlorophyllin was detected in certain imported products sold on the local market, including those supplied by Vidoria.

Olive oils from Vidoria are currently subject to batch-by-batch inspection, according to Feng Lun-lan, an official with the FDA's northern region office.

The FDA will step up inspections of the olive oils and olive pomace oils brought in by the importers of the other two batches to 20 percent of their shipments, Feng said.

The government began late last year to pay closer attention to the coloring agent, which is not authorized for use in edible oils in Taiwan, when a domestic edible oil scandal surfaced.

Oils produced in Taiwan were found to be adulterated, and some companies tried to pass off cheaper oils as olive oils by adding copper chlorophyllin, which made them look more like olive oils.

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