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Fish farms inspected and imports banned over use of banned drugs

TAIPEI - Officials in charge of fishery policy are scheduled to visit 10 fish farms scattered around Taipei County today to see whether their operators have used banned drugs.

Sha Chih-yi, deputy director of the Fisheries Agency under the Council of Agriculture, said food safety officials had conducted a random check of hypermarket chain stores in northern Taiwan and discovered that trout sold in a Far Eastern Geant store in Taoyuan County were contaminated with antibiotic drugs nitrofuran and nalectin - banned cancer-causing substances.

The findings prompted the Fisheries Agency to investigate fish farms located in northern Taiwan that are known supply fresh fish to hypermarket chain stores or traditional marketplaces. Officials will establish if banned drugs are being used to boost production and raise fish.

Sha has also urged consumers not to purchase fish products from unknown sources and, if possible, to only buy certified products.

Shrimp ban
Meanwhile, Taipei officials have banned shrimp imports from China after residues of the forbidden antibiotic nitrofurans was discovered in the product.

According to Cheng Hui-wen, director of the DOH Bureau of Food Safety, five shipments have been found to contain nitrofuran metabolites -- substances that indicate use of the drug -- since the DOH increased the inspection rate of Chinese shrimp imports from five percent to 50 percent in early July.

Cheng said the concentration of nitrofuran metabolites detected ranged from 1.1 ppb to 30 ppb. As a result the DOH notified the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection under the Ministry of Economic Affairs to ban all Chinese shrimp imports from 22 August.

Addressing public concerns over the safety of aquatic animals from China, the DOH has also increased inspections of Chinese fish imports to 50 percent, although no problems have been detected to date, Cheng said.