Frozen seafood found tainted at major buffet restaurants: Taipei health dept

TAIPEI - Frozen seafood at popular buffet restaurants was reported to be tainted with chemical compounds exceeding allowable amounts, the Taipei City Department of Health (DOH) revealed yesterday.

The DOH randomly selected 55 frozen seafood products from traditional markets, restaurants, supermarkets and hypermarkets, inspecting whether they contained illegal residue of animal drugs, heavy metal, or other chemical compounds, as well as whether allowed additives exceed safety limits. For details of the 55 products inspected, please visit the DOH website at

The report revealed yesterday showed that products from two major buffet restaurants in Taipei failed to pass the inspection. Frozen white shrimp from Eatogether Q Square Branch was found to contain sulphur dioxide at 0.14 grams per kilogram, while regulations permit only 0.1 grams per kilogram. Its upstream supplier was traced to Hai Yang Trade Co Ltd., in New Taipei City, DOH officials said.

Crab from Spice Market Eslite Branch was also tested and found to contain 0.18 grams per kilogram of sulphur dioxide, a substance entirely forbidden in crab.

The upstream supplier is Man Shuen Co Ltd., in Datong District, Taipei, officials said.

According to the health bureau, sulphur dioxide is widely used in the food and drink industries, mostly as a bleaching agent and food preservative. It is predominantly used in dried fruits and vegetables, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Maximal permitted concentrations are set by the central health bureau.

Cause of Asthma Related

Officials said that consuming too much sulphur dioxide may cause difficulty in breathing, as well as vomiting and diarrhoea. It has also been reported as inducing asthma when inhaled or ingested by patients with respiratory illnesses.

Records show that around one in nine asthmatics have a history of asthma worsened by drinking soft drinks containing sulphur dioxide, officials said.

The DOH has ordered the two restaurants to stop providing the tainted products immediately, and said that upstream suppliers will be fined from NT$30,000 to NT$3 million under the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation.

DOH officials advised seafood stores to proactively ask for examination reports and certifications when purchasing products from upstream suppliers. Moreover, consumers should avoid buying from unknown sources and check if products have an acidic or medicinal smell when making a purchase.