China Introduces Turbot Safety Measures


Keith Crane, SeafoodSource contributing editor, from Guangdong Province, China

Published on
February 27, 2008

Nearly US$2 million is to be spent by the Chinese government on improving the safety of turbot in the domestic and export markets following a drug contamination case uncovered in Shanghai in 2006.

According to state reports, the project will last four years and will establish a complete food-safety system from farm through to market.

In the first of six major non-profit industry research projects launched by The Ministry of Agriculture in China the "all-female flounder large-scale cultivation technology research" projects led by the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute Aquatic Science has been selected to receive national funding.

China blames a history of the growing scale of turbot culture over the past 20 years, but says breeding technology and seed quality are on the decline.

''The traditional breeding system needs to be upgraded and a healthy breeding and management system are also needed to protect the industry's future,'' the government says.

But the use of drugs in the process was confirmed by one fish farmer:

"Turbot exceeds the drug limit? That's for sure! I wouldn't say 100 percent, but at least 99 percent of it," Mr Bi, an individual farmer in Shidao, Rongcheng City, Shandong, with was quoted as saying in one state newspaper.

In 2006, food-safety experts in Shanghai tested 30 chilled or fresh turbot samples finding nitrofuran metabolin in all 30 samples, while others also contained malachite green, enrofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, chloramphenicol, erythromycin and other banned fishery drugs residues.

The discovery led to the fish being banned temporarily from markets in some of the country's major cities including the capital Beijing and was a prelude to some of the later tainted food scandals that have hit China.

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