Fri, Jul 10, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Namchow denies its oil is toxic

TWENTY PERCENT The oil maker did not take kindly to comments by fast-food chain McDonald’s that insinuated it had purchased most of its oil from Namchow

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Namchow Chemical Industrial Co (南僑化工) said yesterday it supplied only 20 percent of McDonald’s edible oil and that two separate tests confirmed the safety of its product after reports said it was the largest oil supplier to the fast-food chain.

The company, a subsidiary of Namchow Group (南僑集團), whose principal activities are manufacturing, processing and selling cleaning products, oil products and frozen food, challenged the fast-food chain to clarify the sources of its oil to avoid misleading consumers.

“Each month, Namchow supplies between 40 tonnes and 50 tonnes of edible oil to McDonald’s in Taiwan,” Namchow spokesman Roger Lien (連榮璋) told the Taipei Times by telephone. “That accounts for 20 percent of the amount used by the food chain.”

The 57-year-old company, which also supplies oil to the MOS burger food chain and other restaurants, was unhappy at the McDonald’s claim that it obtained most of its oil from Namchow without providing a detailed account.

On Tuesday, Taipei County Government said it found traces of arsenic in McDonald’s and Domino’s Pizza Inc’s edible oil. Arsenic is a poisonous semi-metal that is deposited in the body and reaches a higher concentration over time.

The reports raised food safety concerns because McDonald’s owns more than 200 outlets across Taiwan.

Lien said the company sent samples of its oil for two separate tests on Wednesday after McDonald’s told the media it purchased its oil from Namchow.

Both institutes said they did not find any traces of arsenic in Namchow’s oil, Lien said.

“McDonald’s should disclose the source of its problem oil and quit buying from it,” Lien said.

McDonald’s used to procure all of its oil from Namchow, but changed the practice three years ago to minimize production costs, he said.

The Namchow official said the incident had no impact on the company’s business. Its shares closed up 0.36 percent, or NT$0.03, to NT$8.38 yesterday.

McDonald’s in Taiwan, for its part, saw its revenues drop 10 percent in the past few days, Central News Agency said.

Calls to McDonald’s for comment on Nanchow’s remarks were not answered at press time yesterday.

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