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Taiwan investigates Fukushima food imports

TAIPEI, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Health authorities in Taiwan are investigating how food products made near Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant have illegally entered the island with false origin labels.

The labels might have been changed in Japan, Taiwan's health chief Chiang Been-huang said, according to media reports on Thursday.

Anger has been growing in Taiwan after about 300 food products were found to have been imported and sold there with falsified Chinese-language labels.

Taiwan has banned food imports from Japan's Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures since March 2011 after a massive earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Since news of the scandal broke, items including tea, packet noodles, cookies and sweets have been ordered off supermarket shelves.

Taiwan's food and drug chief Chiang Yu-mei said it's not clear whether the importers misunderstood the codes used on Japanese packaging to indicate place of origin or knowingly falsified the information to dodge the ban.

Under regulations in Taiwan, all Japanese food imports should carry Chinese-language labels that show the place of origin.

Simply attached on top of the originals, the labels on the illegally imported products claimed that they were manufactured in Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Okayama or other regions far from Fukushima.

Media have accused the island's food and drug agency of a cover-up and said that it is aware of a dozen companies that have been importing food from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba with fake origin labels.

The health authorities have admitted that they are considering lifting the ban on food imports from those areas due to pressure from Japan.

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