Taipei-Easy access to the insecticide fipronil and the misconceptions of some farmers regarding the use of insecticides on egg-laying hens may be behind the recent discovery of eggs contaminated with fipronil in Taiwan, an official said Saturday.
Hens often have lice or insects on them that need to be removed, said Tung Meng-chih (???), head of the Animal Disease Control Center of Changhua County, where eggs from 13 farms have been found to contain excessive levels of fipronil.
In the past, veterinarians provided farmers with disinfecting water to treat hens and have warned them not to use certain insecticides on poultry, he said.
However, some egg farmers misuse insecticides and disinfect poultry based on previous experience or information from peers, Tung said.
Furthermore, there are no restrictions on the purchase of fipronil and consumers are not required to present their ID when making purchases of the insecticide, he said.
A nation-wide inspection found 44 farms in Taiwan to have contaminated eggs, and 13 of those farms were in Changhua County.
Restrictions on four of those 13 farms have since been lifted, while nine are still undergoing inspections. As of Saturday, 803 boxes of eggs weighing approximately 8,000 kilograms were still under seal at the farms.
An official from the Changhua County Public Health Bureau revealed Saturday that inspectors discovered 10 bottles of fipronil at a livestock farm in the county while trying to establish the whereabouts of the contaminated eggs.
Although the owner of the farm denied ever using the insecticide, the manufacturing date on the bottles was 2015 and the expiry date December 2017, indicating the farmer could have been using fipronil for years.
The Council of Agriculture (COA) said Friday that samples from the 44 farms had concentrations of the toxic insecticide exceeding 5 parts-per-billion (ppb), or 0.005 mg/kg, the maximum residue limit set by the European Union. Taiwan follows the European Union standard.
Based on the findings, the COA has barred all eggs on the 44 farms in Changhua, Nantou, Chiayi and Pingtung counties and Kaohsiung, Taichung and Tainan cities from leaving the premises, Huang said.
The discovery of contaminated eggs in Taiwan follows similar incidents in Europe and Asia.
The World Health Organization considers fipronil to be "moderately toxic" to humans. Long-term exposure 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