11-30-2008 17:17

S. Korea: Mystery Growing Over Poisoned School Meal

Source of Article:  http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/11/117_35311.html


By Kim Rahn
Staff Reporter

Police are investigating how a toxic chemical was mixed with fried eel, which was served as a school meal and made some 30 students sick at an elementary school in Yeongi, South Chungcheong Province.

Thirty-one students suffered from bouts of dizziness and vomiting after having school lunch last Tuesday. Two of them became seriously ill but their condition has since improved. As their symptoms were different from ordinary food poisoning, the food authorities examined the meal and found carbofuran, a toxic pesticide, in the fried eel.

The eel was imported frozen from Peru in June. A food company in Gyeonggi Province bought some 500 kilograms of the eel in October and distributed about half of it to the school and other places in Gyeonggi and South Chungcheong provinces. Police asked the National Institute of Scientific Investigation to examine the eel, while the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) banned sales of the product.

``We don't know yet whether the eel contained the toxic chemical or the substance was put in while frying the eel or making seasoning,'' a police officer said.

The food authorities say it is unlikely that carbofuran was contained in the eel, as the eel was not raised on farms but caught in the sea. It was also imported and has been kept frozen, a KFDA official said. The fried eel was provided to three schools including the one in question, but only some of the students of that school showed symptoms ― a high chance that the chemical was put in the food just before being served, either on purpose or by mistake, police said.


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