Mon, Sep 08, 2014 - Page 1 News List

More brands slide into investigation

DOWNSTREAM DAMAGE:As local officials and the FDA pored over lists of potential buyers, firms took steps including recalls and rebate plans to ease worries

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Staff wait behind a display at a Taipei store selling mooncakes yesterday. The tainted lard scandal has reduced demand ahead of Mid-Autumn Festival today.

Photo: CNA

More household food brands were drawn into the snowballing recycled waste oil scandal yesterday as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and health departments nationwide stepped up efforts to trace the downstream buyers of the companies that have allegedly made purchases from oil manufacturer Chang Guann Co (強冠企業).

New names included Taipei Leechi (台北犁記), a breakaway from a famous bakery store founded in 1894 in the what is now Shekou Borough (社口) of Greater Taichung’s Shengang District (神岡).

The green bean and meat pastry (綠豆椪) has been a popular gift during the annual Mid-Autumn Festival.

“We added Taipei Leechi to the list of implicated companies late last night after discovering that 187 of the 453 15kg cartons of tainted ‘fragrant lard oil’ purchased by the Taipei-based bakery ingredients company For Chorn Co (佛晨) from Chang Guann had been sold to it and its affiliated bakery store, Ricians Co (聯翔喜餅),” the Taipei City Government’s Department of Health said in a press release.

The department said the two pastry stores used the deficient oil in its entirety to manufacture a total of 19,800 meat-filled sesame pastries (芝麻肉餅) weighing 600g each.

Hsia Chi Wan (呷七碗), one of the nation’s most famous food manufacturers of glutinous rice gift boxes for babies’ first-month birthday, also became engulfed in the oil scandal, when its prepackaged fried rice noodles were found to contain minced pork manufactured by Miaoli-based Mei Chu Food (美廚食品) using the contaminated lard oil.

According to the New Taipei City Government’s Public Health Department, Hsia Chi Wan was unaware that its rice noodle products had been tainted by the questionable oil, since it did not purchase the minced pork directly from Mei Chu Food, but rather from Yih Yuan Additives Chemical Industry Co (億元食品化工) in Keelung.

In addition, supermarket chain Wellcome (頂好超市) was also implicated after the company it entrusted with producing its own-branded mushroom and minced pork seasoning packs — Luxe Enterprises Ltd (陸仕企業) — was found to have used the problematic lard oil in the product.

Chang Guann has been in hot water after it was found to have purchased 247 tonnes of recycled waste oil — collected from restaurant fryers, discarded animal parts, fat and skin — from an unlicensed factory in Pingtung County since February.

It had mixed the recycled oil with processed lard and turned it into 782 tonnes of edible lard oil, before selling the product to 236 oil distributors, restaurants and food processing and manufacturing companies around the nation.

As of 2pm yesterday, the FDA had found that 971 food factories, restaurants, and street vendors had purchased the edible oil or products made with it from the 236 establishments.

Of the 782 tonnes of the tainted lard, 142.1 tonnes have been sealed for investigation and 502.9 tonnes have been used in the production of a total of 136 kinds of food products, the FDA said, adding it was still tracing the remaining 137 tonnes of the oil.

FDA Deputy Director-General Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美) yesterday announced that businesses could face fines ranging between NT$60,000 and NT$50 million (US$2,000 and US$1.6 million) if found to be selling the contaminated products or using the tainted lard after tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Wei Lih Food Industrial Co (維力食品), a well-known instant noodle manufacturer, recalled three of its noodle products after they were found to be made with recycled oil.

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