Taipei-Excessive levels of the highly toxic insecticide fipronil has been found in eggs produced at farms in Changhua County, Council of Agriculture (COA) deputy head Chen Chi-chung (???) said Tuesday.
Chen confirmed the presence of Fipronil when asked to comment on local media reports that the insecticide has contaminated eggs in Taiwan after similar incidents were seen in Europe and South Korea.
Agricultural authorities tested egg samples from 45 farms around the island and found those from three farms in Changhua to be contaminated with the insecticide at concentration levels of 153 parts-per-billion(ppb), 22ppb, and 5ppb, respectively, Chen said.
Those farms are now subject to strict controls that prohibit any eggs from leaving their premises, Chen said.
Eggs they have already shipped will be pulled from store shelves and destroyed, the hens at the three farms will be culled, and authorities will continue to track the source of the insecticide, he said.
The Changhua Animal Disease Control Center said there were 34,000 eggs and 69,000 hens at the three farms, while the COA put the number of hens at 90,000 and said "tens of thousands" of eggs already on the market would be removed from shelves.
As of 12:30 p.m., however, the Changhua center had not received any directives to cull the hens at the farms but it has ordered that their movements be controlled, according to the center's director Tung Meng-chih (???).
Meanwhile, the COA launched a 24-hour inspection of about 2,000 chicken farms around Taiwan at noon on Monday, and the results are expected to be available within three days after the checks are completed.
The European Union has set a maximum residue limit for fipronil in eggs at the detection limit of 5 ppb (or 0.005 mg/kg), and Taiwan follows that standard, but the use of fipronil in producing food for human consumption in Europe is illegal.
The World Health Organization considers fipronil to be "moderately toxic" to humans. Long-term exposure to Fipronil can cause damage to kidneys, liver and thyroid gland. It can also cause "nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and epileptic seizures."
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has classified fipronil as a possible human carcinogen based on an increase in thyroid follicular cell tumors in rats.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel