The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday said it is investigating Tripod King’s (鼎王麻辣鍋) outlets following allegations that its hot pot soups contain artificial ingredients.
Three restaurant employees have been called in for questioning as witnesses, prosecutors said.
Next Magazine reported in its latest edition yesterday that Tripod King has cheated customers for alleging that its spicy hot pot contains 32 natural ingredients, but actually it is made with more than 10 artificially flavored powders.
The report said a sample of the soup collected and examined by the magazine was found to contain heavy metals.
The restaurant chain rebutted the allegations.
Company chief executive Chen Shih-ming (陳世明) said the company would give a reward of NT$5 million (US$166,000) for information on who had made the “false accusation against the restaurant.”
Chen said its spicy soup (麻辣鍋) was made with several Chinese herbs and vegetables.
However, later in the afternoon the company said its soup also contained chicken broth cubes made by Knorr Food Company.
Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office spokesman Huang Mou-hsin (黃謀信) said his office received a complaint on Monday and immediately launched an investigation.
Prosecutor Kao Yi-shu (高一書) yesterday visited a Tripod King shop in Taipei and questioned an employee, Huang said, adding that Kao then went to Greater Taichung and questioned Chen and a manager of procurement as witnesses.
The trio were free to go after questioning, Huang added.
The spokesman said investigators seized ingredients in the Taipei restaurant for examination.
Tripod King also handed over its account books and lists of purchased material to prosecutors, he said.
Huang said that the restaurant was being investigated for fraud and other charges.
He added that the case would become clear after the test results are released.
Meanwhile, Greater Taichung Health Bureau officials yesterday inspected Tripod’s central kitchen in Greater Taichung’s Wuri District (烏日) and collected ingredients and food materials for examination.
Tripod is the market leader among the nation’s hotpot restaurants.