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Salmon imports from Chile test positive for banned drug

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A recent batch of salmon imported from Chile was found to have been contaminated with Leucomalachite Green (LMG) residues that may pose a human health risk, but, fortunately, has yet to enter local retail markets, a top health official said yesterday.

Cheng Hui-wen, director of the Bureau of Food Sanitation (BFS) under the Cabinet-level Department of Health, said that the 523 kilograms of salmon products, imported by Costco's Kaohsiung branch, have still been stuck at the customs after reaching Taiwan Sept. 14. Based on an initial inspection, the imported salmon contains 1.7ppb of LMG, against the existing regulation that not a bit of LMG should be found.

Cheng said Costco Kaohshiung can apply for a further inspection on the salmon imports within 15 days after the first round of inspection, but her bureau has yet to receive any application from the importer.

In related news, the DOH has also announced a batch of lobster imported from Vietnam, weighing 214 kilograms, was found to have contained Nitrofurans or antimicrobial drugs that are banned for use in food producing animals. Consumption of foods contaminated with nitrofurans may pose a human health risk related to the toxicity of the drug.

BFS's Cheng said that the DOH has instructed the Kaohsiung County Government to request the importer in the county to recall and destroy the imported lobsters. Taiwan imported 35,000 kilograms of lobsters from Vietnam in the first half of the year, accounting for only 5 percent of the island's total lobster imports.

Australia was the largest lobster exporter to Taiwan, supplying 40 percent, followed by the U.S., Indonesia and the Philippines.

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