The Department of Health (DOH) has begun to check each batch of imported shellfish from South Korea in the wake of a recent incident of suspected food poisoning from consumption of a South Korean raw oyster, a DOH official said yesterday.
“Since June 9, we have begun to check oyster and shellfish imports from South Korea batch by batch,” said Tsai Shu-chen (蔡淑貞), a section chief of the department’s Food and Drug Administration.
However, according to Tsai, so far only one 100kg batch of shellfish from South Korea is awaiting customs clearance and is being inspected.
Local health authorities have temporarily sealed imported oysters from South Korea, which amounted to 114,210 oysters in 7,204 boxes, she said.
Since late May, 24 people have reported nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea after eating at Taipei restaurants in the Eatogether chain.
Earlier this month, dozens of similar cases were reported in Greater Taichung by people who consumed food from Eatogether restaurants.
Initial investigations showed that the problem was caused by eating raw oysters from South Korea. Inspections at the three Eatogether restaurants in Taipei and those in Greater Taichung also found sanitation problems in the kitchen, including a pileup of waste and inadequate refrigeration.
“The DOH has begun an epidemiological study of the cases,” Tsai said.
She also said that if the food poisoning is related to contaminated South Korean shellfish reported to have been exported to the US, the department is not ruling out pulling South Korean shellfish from shelves.
Reports said the US Food and Drug Administration is urging US retailers to pull South Korean shellfish from store shelves because of possible contamination with human waste and norovirus.
The warning covers all fresh, frozen, canned or processed mollusks from South Korea.
Taiwan is monitoring the situation, but has refrained from following suit.