Parasite Eggs Found In China and Korea Kimchi Products
SEOUL, Nov 3 Asia Pulse – South Korea’s food safety watchdog said Thursday that it has found parasite eggs in some domestically-made kimchi products, sending shock waves through the nation amid rising concerns over food safety.
The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) said 16 out of 502 domestic kimchi products tested were found to contain roundworm eggs. Each of the products came from a different company.
Kimchi is a spicy food made of fermented cabbage and radish that accompanies almost every traditional meal in South Korea.
The parasite eggs are believed to have come from excrement of cats and dogs raised in farming areas, the watchdog said.
The KFDA said it seized all the contaminated kimchi, amounting to 472 kilograms, and that it would keep close tabs on products of the 16 small companies in the future.
Tests on a sample of 54 ingredients used for making the tainted kimchi showed that one South Korean cabbage was contaminated with roundworm eggs, it said. No parasite eggs were discovered in imported kimchi materials.
In a separate test on 165 brands of South Korean cabbage, eight were found to contain parasite eggs, the watchdog said.
According to a food industry source, some kimchi made by those companies have been supplied to major department stores and local operators of TV home shopping channels.
The KFDA said one of the kimchi producers sold its products to Japan, the largest export market for South Korean kimchi manufacturers.
Japan is the destination for 93 percent of the country’s kimchi exports, which amounted to 230,327 tons during the first eight months of this year.
The KFDA said it notified the Japanese food safety authorities of the discovery and promised to conduct strict tests on kimchi exports bound for Japan.
The food safety watchdog’s announcement came two weeks after the KFDA found parasite eggs in some kimchi products imported from China.
The recent tests were conducted on imported kimchi after an opposition lawmaker raised concerns over the safety of kimchi shipments from China in September, saying they had higher levels of lead than permitted.
The KFDA’s announcement angered China, which claimed South Korea failed to keep its promise not to disclose the discovery until Beijing finishes its own investigation.
In an apparent retaliation, China’s food safety watchdog said Monday it had found parasite eggs in 10 South Korean food products, including kimchi, and posted the names of the products on its Web site.
Brushing aside China’s announcement, South Korean officials say some of the posted products were not exported to China.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said inspectors will be sent to check soil and water samples of major vegetable growers, and that a new screening system will be set up to check for parasites at the production level to ferret out substandard foods.
An official at the Agriculture Ministry said all kimchi intended for export will undergo tough inspections and the results of the tests will be forwarded to the importers.
“Companies that do not meet requirements will be penalized, while companies that strictly adhere to the conditions will be rewarded,” he said.