The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday it was investigating reports of a major importer changing the expiration dates of at least eight baking ingredients and selling them on the local market.
The office said it was working with health authorities on a fraud and forgery investigation, acting on a Chinese-language media report that Bon Crop Trading Co (力暐貿易公司), one of three leading importers of baking ingredients in Taiwan, was selling expired baking ingredients, including chocolate nine years past its expiration date, to five-star hotels and other customers.
Lin Chin-fu (林金富), deputy director of New Taipei City’s (新北市) Public Health Department, said officials inspected the firm’s warehouses in Taishan District (泰山) in August and September.
Lin said 238 baking ingredients that were past their expiration dates were found and officials sealed them for disposal. A total of 40 tonnes of expired products were destroyed on Oct. 15, Lin said.
Bon Crop said at that time it had imported a large quantity of baking ingredients and stored them in the warehouse because of poor sales, but officials were skeptical of the claim after finding some of the items had expiry dates dating back to 2004.
Lin said officials did not find evidence the firm had sold expired items, but it was reasonable to suspect that some may have found their way to into the food chain.
“Many bakeries and hotels have bought products from the company, and we’ll continue to track the shipments,” Lin said.
Health officials inspected the company’s warehouses yesterday morning and found 10 barrels of expired applesauce and chocolate mocha beans.
Meanwhile, health officials in Kaohsiung seized a batch of expired food items during a search of a Bon Crop warehouse in Fengshan District (鳳山) yesterday.
The importer could be fined up to NT$150,000 for selling expired food items and up to NT$200,000 for altering the products’ labels.
Top hotels were keen to assure the public yesterday that they were on top of the situation.
Sheraton Taipei said it had decided to stop using ingredients supplied by Bon Crop. The Ambassador Hotel, the Palais de Chine, the Regent Taipei, the Howard Plaza Hotel and the Grand Hyatt Taipei said they had not purchased any of the eight ingredients.