Health authorities said they seized a batch of raw oysters at a high-end restaurant chain and have launched checks on all oyster imports from South Korea after dozens of consumers in Taipei and Greater Taichung reported symptoms of food poisoning.
Since late last month, there have been reports of 24 people experiencing nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains and diarrhea after eating at various Eatogether restaurants in Taipei.
Last week, dozens of similar cases were reported in Greater Taichung branches of the same chain.
Initial investigations showed that the problem was caused by eating uncooked oysters shipped from South Korea. Checks at the three Eatogether restaurants in Taipei and those in Greater Taichung found sanitation problems in the kitchens, including a pileup of waste, inadequate refrigeration and oysters being left to thaw in plastic containers near sinks.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it had seized the oysters at the restaurants and ordered inspections of all raw oyster imports from South Korea.
Only those that pass the checks would be allowed into the country, the FDA said.
Eatogether said on Friday it had suspended the supply of raw oysters to all eight of its restaurants in the country, citing unstable product quality.
Health inspectors in Taipei and Greater Taichung took samples from the restaurants for testing and the results are expected later this week.
The restaurant chain could face a fine of between NT$60,000 (NT$2,000) and NT$6 million if pathogens are found in the samples, the FDA said.
The agency has also sent inspectors to check the restaurant’s supply center in Taoyuan County, said Chen Li-chi (陳立奇), head of the food and drug division at Taipei’s Department of Health.
The FDA warned against eating raw fish and shellfish, saying they are more susceptible to contamination by microorganisms.