12-23-2008 18:19

Korea: Imported Eel Main Cause of School Food Poisoning

Source of Article:  http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/12/117_36621.html


By Kim Rahn
Staff Reporter

Eel caused the mass sickness of elementary schoolchildren last month in Yeongi, South Chungcheong Province, police said in a final report, Monday.

Thirty-one students got sick after eating fried eel served at the school. A regional health institute examined all 14 boxes of the eel products and detected a toxic pesticide, carbofuran, in two boxes, according to police. The products were imported from Peru.

In a sample examination earlier this month, the chemical was found in the edible oil kept after cooking but not in the frozen eel products. Police then asked the institute to examine all the eel products. The oil contained carbofuran because the chemical oozed out of the eel into the oil, a police officer said.

``We investigated every other possibility of how the carbofuran ended up in the meal, such as whether it was included while being distributed, someone broke into the cafeteria and inserted it, or whether chefs accidentally added it, but we found no such evidence,'' the officer said.

``When eel is frozen, pesticides do not permeate it but are washed away. It seems that the eel was contaminated with carbofuran in Peru, before being frozen,'' he said.

The contaminated eel passed evaded quarantine because the authorities only inspected samples. The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said that from now on it will examine all eel products imported from Peru. About 4.5 tons of the same product, imported in September, were already distributed to home shopping companies and buffet restaurants nationwide.





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