The Council of Agriculture (COA) on Monday said that it would require laboratory test results of egg samples to be reported within 48 hours, following criticism over the delayed announcement of a case of fipronil-tainted eggs last week.
Three egg samples taken from Shun Hung Farm (順弘牧場) in Changhua County on Jan. 25 were found to contain 0.03, 0.04 and 0.06 parts per million (ppm) of fipronil respectively, exceeding the maximum allowable level of 0.01ppm, the council said on Friday last week.
However, 7,480 jin (4.49 tonnes) of eggs produced by the farm had been sold to stores in Taipei and New Taipei City before government officials confiscated 2,730 jin of eggs stored at the farm, the Food and Drug Administration said.
Other eggs from the farm tested on Thursday last week were not tainted, but the council drew criticism over its delayed announcement.
The testing and announcement procedure needs to be improved, COA Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) said on Monday.
County officials took the samples on Jan. 25 and sent them to the COA-affiliated National Animal Industry Foundation for testing on Jan. 28, but the foundation was conducting other tests and did not announce the results until Wednesday last week, he said.
To prevent a recurrence, the council would ask local officials to send samples to the foundation as soon as possible and the foundation to announce test results within 48 hours of receiving the samples, he added.
The foundation would evaluate whether it needs more equipment and staff to fulfill the council’s request, foundation CEO Chiu Chuang-chin (邱創進) said, adding that people should not panic over the tainted eggs, as the fipronil residue level was still relatively low.
The government’s maximum allowable residue level for fipronil is stricter than the 0.02ppm limit set by the Codex Alimentarius, Japan and Australia, as well as the 0.03ppm limit established by the US, Huang said.
Since a global scare involving fipronil-tainted eggs in 2017, the council has been regularly testing fipronil residue levels in eggs and meat, he said, adding that it has not found any contaminated samples other than those from Shun Hung Farm.
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