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Taiwan orders new cold chain rules after reports of blackened pineapples in Singapore


在新加坡報導鳳梨變黑後,台灣下令制定新的冷鏈規則


Council of Agriculture blames blackened pineapples on improper cold storage, orders new shipping standards for April


TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A major Singaporean supermarket chain took Taiwanese pineapples off its shelves last week after consumers found that some had blackened cores, and similar problems were reported in Japan and Australia.

During a live-streaming broadcast on March 29, Taiwanese media figure Huang Wei-han (黃暐瀚) said five or six of his followers in Singapore, many of whom are Taiwanese expats, had sent him photos of pineapples imported from Taiwan that had black cores. During the broadcast, he emphasized that he and his fans were concerned about maintaining Taiwan's reputation overseas.

Huang called on the Council of Agriculture (COA) to investigate the cause of the problem and recommended that COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) hold a press conference to provide an explanation.

On April 2, Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao reported that many local netizens had posted photos of "black heart" pineapples imported from Taiwan. A number of consumers also soon reportedly demanded refunds from the Singaporean supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice.

The supermarket responded by stating it had investigated the matter and removed Taiwanese pineapples from its shelves. After it made the announcement, many more netizens made comments on the company's Facebook page, including photos of darkened pineapples and demanding a refund.

In response to a query from the newspaper, an NTUC FairPrice spokesperson stated that the company is working closely with its suppliers to review the matter. In the meantime, it will take Taiwanese pineapples off its shelves, and customers with receipts can exchange the blackened fruits with fresh products at any of its stores.

That same day, mothership also reported that many Singaporeans were posting images of Taiwan-grown pineapples with rotten cores on social media. It cited one netizen who had bought two darkened pineapples and complained that the Malaysian-grown version of the fruit was "way sweeter."

On Tuesday (April 6), ETtoday reported that blackened pineapples were also appearing in stores in Australia and Japan. Chen said that in March, Taiwan exported 5,610 metric tons of pineapples, which he claimed was far more than the 969 tons sold in March of last year.

However, he conceded there have been three major problems reported this year, including issues with blackened cores, cardboard box labeling, and harvesting pineapples before they are ripe. Chen said the blackened cores are a consequence of the fact that when China unilaterally banned Taiwanese pineapples, many of the companies that stepped in to fill the shortfall in sales did not have experience shipping agricultural products.

"They have not done a good job with the cold chain," said Chen. He explained that pineapples normally should be kept at around 10 degrees Celsius when being transported.

He said the "normal temperature" used to store the fruits when shipping them to Singapore, Japan, and other markets had been too warm and led to the blackening. In order to remedy the problem, Chen has ordered all exporters to store pineapples at 13 degrees Celsius, give or take 2 degrees.

Chen stressed that as long as the fruits are stored at between 11 to 15 degrees Celsius, there "should be no black heart problem." He emphasized that the problem was not Taiwanese farmers but improperly maintained temperatures during overseas transit.

As for the sweetness level, Chen said that the pineapples will be tested to ensure they reach a minimum of 14 on the sweetness scale; if they do not, they will not be exported. Another problem that has arisen is that Japanese vendors have been accused of trying to pass off Chinese-grown pineapples as Taiwanese.

He said the reason is that many producers are still shipping Taiwanese pineapples in boxes labeled for shipment to China. Chen said this problem will be solved by requiring all producers to use new, standardized boxes.

Of the 5,610 tons of pineapples Taiwan has exported thus far this year, 2,906 tons were shipped to Japan versus 624 tons last year. A total of 231 tons were exported to Singapore this year, compared to 148 last year, while Hong Kong saw a dramatic increase from 122 tons last year to 2,289 this year.
 
Keoni Everington, Taiwan News, Staff Writer  
2021-04-07  

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