[EDITORIALS]Turning a blind eye to poisonMalakite green, a chemical that causes cancer, was found in salmon trout and carp farmed in inland Korea. Amid the recent discovery of harmful components in eels, Prussian carps, and red croakers imported from China, the finding of similar components in domestic seafood is magnifying the serious concerns people already have about their food. Why is the government not protecting the safety of peoples’ dinner tables?
Malakite green is a chemical product used to dye textiles or wood, but at fish farms, the fish have been injected with the chemical to protect their scales from bacteria. Highly flammable, the chemical has been banned internationally since the early 1990s. However, the Korean government were blind to the problem until authorities in Hong Kong made it an issue in July, when malakite green was discovered in Chinese seafood. At the time, the government investigated several items and announced that fish farmed in domestic waters are safe from the substance. But unbelievably, it turns out that the government lied, and people have been eating poisoned trout and carp.
Since malakite green is banned, it is not inspected during food inspections. Abusing this loophole, fish farmers have bought and used the dye. There were even cases in which it was used under the direction of a government official. That means that the harmful nature of the substance is not widely known.
Under these circumstances, it now turns out that the government simply believed that the chemicals have “not been used for over 20 years” without studying the real situation, and we can only blame ourselves for believing them.
In the end, this incident will poke holes in the administration of all processes of business, from sales of pharmaceutical and chemical products, to inspection of the farming process and the distribution process.
The chain of cases of poisoned or dangerous food has led people to distrust the government’s ability to manage state affairs. In particular, if discussions and adjustments between related ministries fail to solve the problem, the government may look incompetent. This crisis will not only end up giving people anxiety but may also deliver a fatal blow to the fish-farming industry and to the food and restaurant industry. The government must focus all of its efforts in order to swiftly deal with the crisis at hand and prevent a relapse.