Tue, Sep 09, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Taiwanese ‘gutter oil’ scandal spreads to Hong Kong, Macau

AFP, HONG KONG

Pineapple buns and dumplings have been pulled from the shelves in Hong Kong as authorities check whether they contain what media are referring to as “gutter oil” that has sparked a growing regional food safety scare, officials said yesterday.

An investigation was launched after oil from a Taiwanese company accused of using illegally recycled products — including fat collected from grease traps — was exported to the territory.

Taiwanese authorities say a factory in Greater Kaohsiung illegally used 243 tonnes of tainted products to mix with lard oil in a case that has reignited regional concerns about food safety.

The lard oil — a clear oil pressed from pig fat — was supplied to at least 900 restaurants and bakeries in Taiwan. The owner of the factory was arrested on Sunday.

The scare has now spread to Hong Kong, with local chains forced to pull products from their shelves and experts ramping up spot checks.

Philip Ho, an officer from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, told Radio Television HK yesterday that dozens of food samples had been taken, with results expected in the next few days.

The government’s Centre for Food Safety is also conducting tests on mooncakes from retailers across the territory. The pastries are consumed in vast numbers during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Popular bakery chain Maxim’s Cakes removed pineapple buns from its shelves over the weekend after confirming it had used oil from Chang Guann Co (強冠企業), the Taiwanese oil manufacturer at the heart of the scandal.

Macau’s Food Safety Centre said 21 bakeries and food manufacturers had bought oil from Chang Guann through a local importer.

Shoppers in Hong Kong said they were increasingly concerned about the safety of food, especially imported products.

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