More pesticide-contaminated eggs found in S. Korea

SEOUL-- The South Korean government said Friday that 13 more poultry farms have been found using illegal insecticides or a chemical in excess of tolerated levels, further fueling nationwide concerns over food safety.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it has completed inspections on 1,155 egg farms and related facilities, which represents some 93 percent of all egg production facilities subject to the nationwide inspection. The total number of farms embroiled in the tainted-egg scandal rose to 45, according to the ministry.

The government has been carrying out inspections on local farms since Tuesday after eggs produced from some local poultry facilities were found to be contaminated with pesticides earlier this week.

The ministry said 34 farms were detected with above the permissible level of bifenthrin, used on agricultural crops, while seven were found to have used fipronil. Two others farms were found with flufenoxuron, while the remaining two had etoxazole and pyridaben, according to the government.

Fipronil, flufenoxuron, etoxazole and pyridaben are banned from being used on chickens in South Korea as they could possibly harm human organs.

Of the farms that have produced pesticide-tainted eggs, 28 were certified for producing "eco-friendly" eggs, which are strictly banned from using any pesticides at all.

The government has discarded all eggs produced from the polluted farms, while allowing the sales of eggs from farms that passed the inspection.

Despite government's swift measures to quell public health concerns, the authorities have been criticized for failing to thoroughly carry out the inspection. The country's agriculture minister said Thursday that 121 farms are being re-examined after their samples were tested without meeting due procedures.

The government is scheduled to complete the inspections Friday and announce the final probe results later in the day.

The tainted-egg fiasco broke at a time when the country is already suffering from rising egg prices due to a signification reduction in supply caused by the recent outbreak of avian influenza here and the subsequent massive culling of egg-laying chickens.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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