Following a food scandal involving fipronil-tainted eggs over the past week, Council of Agriculture (COA) officials yesterday unveiled a new device for screening insecticide residue in produce.
The device, which has a surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) chip, was patented by the Intellectual Property Office in April, Taiwan Agricultural Chemicals and Toxic Substances Research Institute Director-General Fei Wen-chi (費雯綺) said.
At yesterday’s news conference in Taipei, the institute signed an eight-year authorization contract, including a license fee of NT$3.6 million (US$119,205), with the technique’s developer, Phansco Co.
“Our test of fipronil residue in eggs at airports took about half a day,” Fei said.
“With the new device, the test can be done in about 10 minutes,” Fei added.
While food for student lunches is the institutes’s primary target, the management of insecticides is no less important, she said.
“Fipronil residue found in eggs results from the insecticide’s trade on the black market,” she added.
In response to media queries about the disposal of tainted eggs, COA Deputy Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said that more than 1.5 million eggs from affected farms had been destroyed as of 6pm yesterday.
“All eggs on the market are now safe,” Chen said.
Of the 44 farms where fipronil-tainted eggs were discovered, 37 passed the council’s second test, while seven did not, he said.
One of the seven farms, Changhua County’s Liancheng (連成) farm, whose eggs had 153 parts per billion of fipronil residue, was found applying the insecticide directly onto chickens, in violation of the council’s ban since January last year.
“Liancheng farm is still banned from distributing eggs and chicken,” Chen said, adding the council would continue to test its eggs.
Asked how the fipronil scare had affected the price of eggs, Chen said the average price was NT$25 per kilogram on Monday, but a decrease of NT$3 could be expected.
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