Sat, Jun 16, 2012 - Page 2 News List

New checks on S Korean oysters

SOMETHING FISHY:South Korean seafood has come under scrutiny after a series of food poisonings in Taipei, while US authorities have also issued a strong warning

AFP and Reuters,TAIPEI and Washington

Taiwanese health authorities said yesterday they had intensified checks on oysters imported from South Korea following a series of food poisoning cases in recent weeks.

The Department of Health said it had started checking all shipments from South Korea after reports of food poisoning symptoms from at least 62 people who had eaten in four outlets of the same restaurant chain in Taipei since May.

An initial probe showed the cause of the food poisoning was probably oysters imported from South Korea, although more tests were pending to determine the exact source, it said.

About one-third of Taiwan’s imported oysters come from South Korea, according to the department.

The restaurant chain, which was fined NT$60,000 (US$2,000) over the food poisoning, has suspended serving oysters citing “unstable quality.”

US authorities on Thursday issued a strong warning against imported South Korean shellfish, saying they could be contaminated with human feces and noroviruses.

At least four people in the US have become sick after eating South Korean seafood — three in October and one in December, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Thursday.

The regulatory warning spans the range of fresh, canned and processed seafood products that contain the seafood types known as molluscan shellfish that entered the US before May 1, when the FDA first removed them from an interstate list of certified shellfish shippers.

An FDA official said US representatives are in talks with South Korean officials about the problem that involves polluted fishing waters where the seafood was harvested.

An official with the South Korean embassy in Washington had no comment.

Some food companies have already removed the products from their distribution networks, but the agency said not all have complied and it issued the warning in an effort to reach retailers, distributors and food service operators.

“These products and any products made with them may have been exposed to human fecal waste and are potentially contaminated with Norovirus,” the FDA said in a statement.

Noroviruses cause gastroenteritis, a disorder characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and other symptoms that occur within 12-48 hours of exposure and last up to three days.

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