SEOUL, Aug. 15 (Korea Bizwire) — Some egg products in South Korea have been contaminated with a potentially harmful pesticide, the government said Tuesday, amid a growing health scare in Europe over tainted egg products.
Some eggs at a farm with 80,000 hens in Namyangju, east of Seoul, were found to contain the pesticide fipronil on Monday, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said.
The ministry temporarily banned all egg farms from producing eggs from Tuesday so it can carry out an inspection.
It was not known how many samples tested positive for the pesticide and how many eggs from the Namyangju farm were in the market.
But at least 100,000 eggs are believed to have been circulated, as the farm had produced 25,000 eggs per day or 150,000 eggs for six days from last Wednesday when the samples were taken till Monday when the test result was out. There were only 50,000 eggs left when ministry officials visited the farm for further inspections after being informed of the test result.
“I used it at recommendation from a neighboring farm that it’s good for destroying ticks. I didn’t know it was fipronil,” the farm owner told officials. He also stated that he doesn’t remember exactly when he began using the fipronil, according to other sources.
The same pesticide has been found in eggs in 17 European countries since the health scandal broke out early this month.
With the government beginning to check egg farms, the nation’s top three discount store chains said they have stopped selling eggs starting Tuesday.
Homeplus, Lotte Mart and E-Mart said they decided to pull eggs off the shelf until results of the government’s inspection into egg farms are released.
Homeplus described its decision to stop selling eggs as a “precautionary measure,” saying it didn’t purchase eggs from the Namyangju farm.
Convenience stores also took eggs off the shelf to allay consumer concerns.
CU, the nation’s largest convenience store chain with some 10,000 outlets, said it has withdrawn eggs and egg food products.
“The decision takes into account people’s safety and general anxiety,” said a CU official.
Two other convenience store chains, GS25 and 7-Eleven, have halted sales of egg products.
Agriculture Minister Kim Yung-rok held a meeting of heads of relevant government agencies to discuss measures to deal with the nation’s first instance of pesticide-tainted eggs.
During the gathering, the policymaker vowed to swiftly conduct an inspection of egg producers to minimize the impact on consumers.
By conducting a swift inspection of egg farms with more than 200,000 hens by Tuesday night, the minister said, what amounts to about 25 percent of the eggs that would normally reach the market on a daily basis can be sold on Wednesday.
Also, the government plans to complete an inspection into all egg farms within three days, he emphasized.