SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- A suspected rat was found in frozen vegetables imported from the United States, prompting South Korea's food protection agency to order a recall and launch an investigation, an official said Friday.
The suspected rat, 4 centimeters (2 1/2 inches) long, was found earlier this week in mixed vegetables made by Columbia Foods Inc., said Choi Soon-gon, deputy director of food management at the Korea Food and Drug Administration.
Costco, a U.S.-based discount store that sold the vegetables, confirmed that it reported the case to the food agency Wednesday, two days after receiving a complaint from a South Korean customer.
The frozen vegetables were sold at four of Costco's six stores in South Korea, the company said.
Nearly 9,300 tons of the vegetables were imported from the United States early this month and about 16 percent had been sold, said Choi, adding that the remainder would be discarded.
Choi said KFDA was investigating how the suspected rat was introduced in the frozen vegetables, and added that the agency was deciding whether to send a fact-finding team to the U.S. factory.
Calls to Columbia Foods, based in Washington state, went unanswered late Friday.
The announcement came a week after a suspected rat's head was found in a popular South Korean snack food produced by its Chinese factory.
Choi said KFDA was coordinating with China to send investigators to the factory in Qingdao in eastern China to determine the cause of the contamination.