Several domestic manufacturers of dairy and jelly desserts yesterday decided to recall some of their products that are suspected of containing questionable or unacceptable ingredients.
Uni-President Enterprises Corp (統一企業) took all products containing potentially questionable ingredients off the shelves immediately after being informed by investigative agencies.
However, the food giant said its latest internal inspection yesterday showed these products were all safe.
“To protect the rights of consumers, we nevertheless decided to pull some of these products from the market until we have conclusively ensured the safety of their ingredients,” Uni-President Enterprises said in a statement.
The seven products recalled by the company were two pudding products and five ice-cream products.
Three of the five questionable ice cream products are marketed under the Cold Stone Creamery (酷聖石冰淇淋) brand — an affiliate business of Uni-President, authorized by the US-based brand.
Meanwhile, Kwang Dai Freeze Food Industry Co (光代冷藏食品) suspended sales of flan products marketed under its “Elate” brand, while AGV Products Corp (愛之味) recalled its grass jelly. Both are offering refunds to consumers.
The food makers initiated the move after one of their suppliers, Rico Industrial Co (立光農工), was found to be selling ingredients that had passed their expiration dates and using low-grade materials in its production processes.
According to an investigation by prosecutors, Rico has used the industry-grade preservative EDTA-2Na since 2008 to produce gelling agents, which were later sold to various food manufacturers for use in products such as puddings, tofu puddings and agar jelly.
Rico allegedly also supplied customers with locust bean gum, a commonly used food thickener, and potassium sorbate, a food preservative, which had both passed their use-by dates. The company’s owner, surnamed Tsai (蔡), was detained by prosecutors yesterday.
Uni-President Enterprises said in a statement yesterday that it may file a lawsuit against Rico Industrial Co if the supplier was found to have offered unacceptable ingredients to the company.
Fang Ku-pai (方穀派), president of Kwang Dai, which purchased locust bean gum from Rico, said his company is also planning to seek compensation from Rico for the damage the recall has done to its reputation.
Both Uni-President Enterprises and AGV Products Corp expected limited direct impact from the recall, with infringements of their reputation the main concern.
Uni-President saw its shares rise 0.34 percent to close at NT$59.2 on the local bourse yesterday, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed.
Shares of AGV, on the contrary, declined by 2.37 percent to close at NT$10.3, statistics showed.
The problem of questionable ingredients has plagued the nation’s food sector for a month. Last month, Taoyuan County’s Public Health Bureau fined I-Mei Foods Co (義美食品) for using expired ingredients in one of its products.
Also yesterday, RT-Mart, one of the nation’s largest hypermarket chains, removed four agar jelly products from its shelves pending further investigation.
Mark Chang (張智剛), chairman of the Consumers’ Foundation, said the recent string of food-safety incidents has exposed the government’s negligence in regulating upstream ingredient suppliers.
He urged the government to strengthen its inspection of food manufacturers and raw material suppliers, instead of merely targeting products sold at the retail level.