Thursday, November 03, 2005


Parasites found in Korean-made kimchi

Kimchi makes me spend anxious days. Korean signature dish 'kimchi' is too dangerous to eat.
Korean Kimchi in Parasite Shock

The Korea Food and Drug Administration on Thursday confirmed Chinese claims that some Korean-made kimchi are infested with parasites. Mostly made by small manufacturers, the brands have been sold in department stores, hotels and via home shopping channels, and also exported to Japan. The find hits a doubly sensitive spot because it could damage the reputation of a Korean signature dish for whose healthful properties large claims have been made and comes hard on the heels of domestic warnings of parasites in Chinese-made kimchi.
The KFDA said Thursday it tested kimchi products from 502 local companies and found parasite eggs in 16 brands. The 16 accounted for 4.9 percent of total domestic kimchi production last year.

The tainted kimchi mainly contained the eggs of roundworm, which lives in dogs and cats. The KFDA assumes the excrement of animals living on farms where cabbage for kimchi is grown was not washed off properly in the production process.

However, experts say eating kimchi infested with parasite eggs is unlikely to cause serious health problems since the eggs are premature and excreted from the body. Humans are rarely infected by roundworm from animals, and there are effective worm treatments if they are.

The KFDA also tested 54 Korean-made ingredients for kimchi and found parasite eggs in one brand of salted cabbage. Tests of 165 Korean cabbages showed eight infested with parasites, suggesting the blame lies mainly with cabbage. However, no parasite eggs were found in Chinese kimchi ingredients like cabbage and hot chilli powder.

The KFDA seized inventories of the tainted kimchi products and ordered the 16 manufacturers to test the remainder of their stock. Half of the 16 tainted kimchi producers earn less than W100 million (US$100,000) a year. One of them, the Namyang Agricultural Cooperative in Hawseong, Gyeonggi Province, has halted operation of its factory.

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Ministry finds parasite eggs in Korean kimchi

November 04, 2005 ㅡ Sixteen Korean kimchi products, out of 502 tested, have been found to contain parasite eggs, the health ministry and Korea Food & Drug Administration announced yesterday. The recent kimchi scare, which started after the Korean government found parasite eggs in 30 Chinese-made kimchi products in October, has induced the Chinese government to ban the import of 10 food products from Korea in apparent retaliation.
However, the ministry also announced that most parasite eggs contained in both Korean and Chinese-made kimchi proved to be harmless to the human body, as they were immature and lacked parasite larvae.
Youn Hee-jeong, a professor of veterinary medicine at Seoul National University, said, "People who eat kimchi containing immature parasite eggs are 100 percent safe because those eggs are excreted from the human body."
The government's hasty inspection on Chinese-made and Korean kimchi products came in October after Ko Kyoung-hwa, a Grand National Party representative, warned of possible contagion in imported vegetables. However, the government announced the result of inspection without thoroughly examining whether the eggs were harmful to humans.
The Food and Drug Administration "created excessive frenzy among people because it announced the result without thorough consideration and the parasite eggs are not actually damaging," said Hong Sung-tae, a professor of medicine at Seoul National University.
Authorities said nine Korean kimchi products contained dog or cat roundworm, three had unidentified parasite eggs, and four others had roundworm eggs, which were not identified as being from humans or animals.
Mr. Youn said, "The roundworm found in those four products are likely to be pig roundworm from using pig's excrement as manure, because only a limited number of Koreans [0.05 percent] have roundworm."
The Korea Food & Drug Administration said it seized 472 kilograms of Korean kimchi and ordered manufacturers to sell only products without parasite eggs. The 16 domestic kimchi producers accused of producing kimchi containing parasite eggs were embarrassed at the news as most of them are small-sized manufacturers and therefore highly likely to close their business at the foreseeable flood of purchase cancellations. The companies argued the government should first establish a parasite inspection system because parasite contagion is difficult to check for with the human eye.
A manufacturer based in North Chungcheong province, said, "We will all be dead if the government just announce results like this without any proper system to inspect kimchi's safety." Large discount stores and cafeteria catering companies have already recalled kimchi supplied by the 16 manufacturers listed in the government's report.
In response to the announcement by the Korean government revealing some Korean kimchi also contains parasite eggs, China's Beijing News reported, "As most ingredients for Korean kimchi are exported from China, the kimchi scare will affect both Korea and China."
The newspaper, which reported about the kimchi scare for a full page, said, "Korean and Chinese kimchi are being withdrawn from high-end markets in Europe and Japan. Both countries of manufacture should maintain the good image of kimchi by keeping its quality."
The Japanese broadcast media also reported the news that Korean kimchi had been found to contain parasite eggs. That news will give a negative image of Korean kimchi to Japanese customers, said a broadcaster. The Japanese government has not announced any official reaction to the news. Last year, the Japanese government imposed a temporary ban on Korean dumplings after some were found to contain unsanitary ingredients.
Some Japanese customers responded sensitively to the news by calling the Japanese branch of the Korea Agro-Trade Corporation in Tokyo. The Korea Agro-Trade Corporation said, "We will inform Japanese customers that only one out of 100 Korean exporters to Japan was found to produce kimchi containing parasite eggs, and we will immediately order the suspension of operation of that exporter." Korea's kimchi exports amounted to $120 million last year with 95 percent of that exported to Japan.

by Shin Sung-sik, Kim Chung-soo

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