Chemical scare halts fish sales

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 September, 2005, 12:00am

Taiwan banned the sale of grouper from several fish farms yesterday after confirming that 15 samples had tested positive for traces of the cancer-causing chemical malachite green - barely two weeks after it claimed there was no problem with the fish.

'Of the 36 samples, we found one with malachite green,' said Hsieh Ta-wen, head of the Fishery Department under the Council of Agriculture. He said 14 other samples also showed signs of tainting.

All 36 samples were collected from fish farms in Pingtung, Kaohsiung and Tainan counties, Mr Hsieh said. No hazardous chemicals were detected in the samples from Kaohsiung.

He said 13 fish farms found to have the tainted samples would be temporarily barred from selling or marketing grouper until they were cleared by further inspections.

On September 2 Taiwanese fisheries officials denied the island's grouper were tainted by malachite green after reports from Hong Kong said one sample from Taiwan had tested positive.

Mr Hsieh said that at the time, the agricultural authorities had only meant that grouper that were exported were not tainted. He said his department later asked that the relevant departments in Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung conduct extensive tests.

He stressed that all grouper would be tested before going to market.