Mon, Sep 03, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Nitrofuran found in Taipei trout

TAINTED Collected at at the Yangmei branch of the French superstore Geant, the sample of fish tested positive for chloramphenicol, another banned antibiotic

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tainted trout from a Taipei County area fish farm was found to contain as much as 1.094 parts per million (ppm) of the banned antibiotic nitrofuran, Bureau of Food Sanitation (BFS) officials said yesterday.

The concentration of nitrofuran found in the fish, 1.094ppm, is the highest on record, BFS Director Cheng Huei-wen (鄭慧文) said.

"In previous instances of nitrofuran contamination, the concentration of nitrofuran is measured in parts per billion rather than parts per million," Cheng told a press conference at the Department of Health.

The sample also tested positive for chloramphenicol, another banned antibiotic, at the concentration of 0.6 parts per billion, he said.

The sample of tainted fish was collected at at the Yangmei branch of the French superstore Geant.

An investigation that ran up the supply chain found that the fish originated from the fish farm of Chang Shen-di (張坤地) in Jinsan Township, Taipei County.

Fish from Chang's farm tested positive for banned antibiotics last September and Chang could face fines of NT$30,000 to NT$150,000 from local health authorities in addition to punishments meted out by the Council of Agriculture. The bureau said that stock of fish from the farm have been pulled off the shelf until further notice.

Despite this case, Cheng urged the public not to panic or start foregoing fish.

"Even though the concentration of nitrofuran in this case is quite high compared to other incidents, it is still not really high enough to cause a serious risk," Cheng said.

The use of nitrofuran in food production is banned in this country as well as others such as the US and the EU. However, the antibiotic is still used on occasion to treat urinary tract infections, Cheng said.

"The risk is low, and it would not be wise for the public to forego fish, which brings nutritional benefits," he said.

This case is the only one that revealed the presence of the banned antibiotics out of 87 samples of seafood tested this year.

"Last year we inspected 91 aquaculture products and found that 15 contained banned antibiotics. This year we have only had this one case," Cheng said.

An additional 38 aquaculture samples will be tested before the end of the year, he said.

Nitrofuran was just in the news yesterday when the bureau announced on Saturday that five lots of frozen white shrimp from China tested positive for nitrofuran, albeit at far lower levels than this case.

Nitrofuran was involved in 13 of the 15 aquaculture samples found to contain banned antibiotics last year.

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