TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Fisheries Agency under the Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday revealed that officials unearthed the eel fishery in Yunlin that was responsible for selling 3,000 kilograms of poisonous live eels to manufacturers.
Ming Chuan International bought 3,000 kg of live eels from the Yunlin fishery earlier in the year, then sold them to its downstream Hong Yi Ltd.x, a frozen food manufacturer in Pingtung, which originally planned to export the processed eels to Japan.
However, Hong Yi made some of the live eels into grilled eels before test results from SGS Taiwan became available, revealing that the 3,000 kg of live eels were contaminated with malachite green.
Malachite green is a synthetic dye used to colour fabric and paper, and has emerged as a controversial agent in aquaculture. It is cheap and easy to purchase, serving as a parasiticide and antibacterial agent. However, it has been found to be toxic to the liver and kidney, detrimental to fertility, and possibly could lead to cancer in certain cases. Most countries have banned its use in fish sold for human consumption.
According to the Taoyuan Prosecutors Office (TPO) and the Health Bureau of Taoyuan, Hong Yi returned the half-processed eels to Ming Chuan, however, they failed to report this to the health bureau. Ming Chuan then illegally manufactured the eels into grilled eel products, already aware that the eels were tainted with malachite green, prosecutors said.
Responsible Yunlin Fishery
On April 26, the TPO discovered that Ming Chuan intended to release the grilled eels onto the local market. The Fisheries Agency then expanded their investigation to Yunlin, unearthing the fishery that used malachite green in the eels.
According to the Taiwan Eel Farming Industry Development Foundation, Yunlin's eel farming has earned a reliable reputation in the market over the years, however, this scandal may bring impact its reputation.
Representatives of the agency said that they have found another 5,600 kilograms of live eels at the Yunlin fishery, which is now restricted from selling products until it complies with SGS standards.
According to the eel farming foundation, however, the Yunlin fishery farmed a total of 30 tons of live eels last year, with 3 tons now confiscated, and the other 27 tons remaining unaccounted for. It may be possible that they have already been sold or consumed.
Ming Chuan to be Fined up to NT$200 Million (S$8.6 million)
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the owners of Ming Chuan will be fined from NT$60,000 to NT$200 million, or five to seven years imprisonment, over violations of the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation. Hong Yi will be fined from NT$30,000 to NT$3 million for not reporting the presence of malachite green in eels to the local health bureau.