South Korea recalls contaminated farm produce
on land near disused mines, after a survey found high levels of
lead and cadmium contamination.
Rice, soybeans, corn, Chinese cabbage and radish were all found to contain lead and cadmium above the level legally permitted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), reported The Korea Times. In 757 rice samples, 27.5 per cent were contaminated with more than the permitted level of lead, and 8.1 per cent with cadmium. One product contained 3.51 parts per million (ppm) of cadmium, far more than the nation's permitted level of 0.2 ppm, and more than the CAC level of 0.4 ppm. The research, released on Tuesday, was conducted from July 2005 on 44 regions near disused mines by the country's Food and Drug Administration, as well as its ministry of agriculture and ministry of environment. The government said that the recalled produce has not reached general markets and as the affected areas were very small, the products are unlikely to cause a serious public health problem. It did not disclose the names of the regions but said it will buy and destroy farm products containing more than the CAC levels. It is also planning to expand the investigation to areas near other mines. There are 936 disused mines nationwide, according to the report. Codex standards of lead and cadmium will be applied to farm produce from the former mine areas from this month until the nation sets up its own standards for heavy metals, said the paper.