Fish farms to face banned drug checks

The China Post staff

Officials with the Fisheries Agency under the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture are scheduled to tour 10 fish farms in Taipei County today to see if their operators have used banned drugs to help boost production.

Sha Chih-yi, deputy director of the Fisheries Agency, said the inspection move was a response to the fact that during a recent random check of hypermarket chain stores in northern Taiwan, food safety officials found that some trout sold in a Far Eastern Geant store in Taoyuan County were contaminated with antibiotic drugs nitrofuran and nalectin — two cancer-causing banned substances. Sha said that his agency has repeatedly reminded fish-farm operators of the ban on the use of antibiotic drugs nitrofuran and nalection, two cancer-causing substances, as such banned drugs can be easily discovered whether their trout products are exported or sold domestically.

This finding prompted the Fisheries Agency to look into fishery farms located in northern Taiwan, which are known to have regularly provided fresh fishery produce to hypermarket chain stores or traditional marketplaces, to see whether banned drugs are being used to raise fish.

Sha also called on consumers not to purchase fish products whose sources are unknown and if possible, purchase only certified products. Also yesterday, a top official with the Far Eastern Geant store said yesterday that the company already removed all the problem trout products from its sales stands at the end of July. But the official wondered why only the trout products sold by Far Eastern Geant store were found to have contained the two banned cancer-causing substances, given the fact that the firm and many local restaurants purchased trout products from the same fish farm in Taipei County.

The official continued that Far Eastern Geant will move to assess the reliability of the examination certificates for trout products sold to the company. The fish farm in question is located on Chinshan Township, Taipei County, and its operator is is identified as Chang Kuen-di.

In September 2006, Chang was also found to have used banned drugs to boost the output of trout in September 2006, after the food safety officials of the Taipei County Government came out with an inspection report showing that the trout sold also to Far Eastern Geant contained excessive amount of nitrofuran and nalectin.

Fisheries Agency will first visit Chang’s fish farm, and may impose a fine of NT$30,000 to NT$150,000 on Chang for using the banned drugs.