Korean Food Ministry scrambles to halt sales of pesticide-contaminated eggs

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On Aug. 15, major Korean retailers, convenience store chains, and online stores immediately halted the sale of eggs nationwide after the government issued a warning that the eggs were contaminated with pesticide. According to the Korea Joongang Daily, due to the sudden decision to halt all sales of eggs in all major convenience stores and retailers such as CU and Homeplus, egg prices are expected to soar, as the supply remains unstable.

“As a daily consumer of eggs, I do not get why the Korean government is halting the sale of eggs after a lot of pesticide-infested eggs and other foods that use such eggs as an ingredient have already been sold in the markets,” Sophia Song (12) said. “In fact, an adult would have to eat approximately 192 eggs per week to suffer the consequences of nausea, which is a lot more than what I consume on average per week.”

The eggs turned out to contain an antibiotic called, Fipronil, a chemical substance that is “moderately toxic” only when ingested in massive quantities, according to the World Health Organization. In effect, to set preventative measures, the Korean Food Ministry stated that eggs produced from 1,300 farms contained 0.0363mg/kg amount of Fipronil, which exceeds the Codex international standard of 0.002mg/kg.  Considering this limitation, only farms that pass the ministry’s probe will be allowed to sell their eggs.

“Considering the current situation with contaminated eggs in the market, we are trying our best to avoid making foods that require eggs as a main ingredient,” said Soo-yeon Kwon, J&J Catering’s nutritionist. “Of course, there are inevitable challenges to come up with a variety of menus that do not require eggs, but at the same time, we believe that it is our first priority to guarantee the safety of all students and faculty.”

Especially since the egg industry had already gone through the spread of bird flu last winter along with the mass perishing of chickens from a recent heat wave, the abrupt halt of egg sales this month could further increase the prices of eggs, according to the Korea Herald. In order to prevent such crises from reoccurring, the government has decided to hold preventative education sessions on insecticides for egg farms.

“Besides holding preventative education sessions for the farmers, I believe that the more ideal way to encourage safety of consumption is to sell and purchase eggs that are laid by chickens grown from a definite source like one’s own backyard,” said Sara Brodhead, AP Environmental Science teacher. “But considering the fact that Korea does not have many backyards unlike America, the Korean government should come up with stricter measures to monitor the egg farms closely so that neither the water nor the feed that the chickens eat is getting contaminated by such chemical substances as Fipronil.”

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Alice Lee

Alice Lee is a senior who is currently a managing editor for Tiger Times Online. She is also an active member of Seoulite, Media Club (TNT), NKHR, and RCY. Alice describes herself as a passionate violinist who plays for the High School Orchestra and Strings. Other than reporting and playing the violin, Alice loves to travel to different countries, mainly to try a variety of unique foods. Contact: alice.lee18@stu.siskorea.org

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