The businessman at the center of a snowballing edible oil scandal was detained early yesterday on suspicion of fraud as more well-known food makers were forced to recall affected products.
A court in Pingtung County granted a request by prosecutors’ to detain Chang Guann Co (強冠企業) chairman Yeh Wen-hsiang (葉文祥) to prevent him from potentially colluding with witnesses, destroying evidence or fleeing.
Yeh was brought in by prosecutors in Pingtung for questioning on Friday afternoon, more than a week after the scandal emerged.
Photo: Taipei Times
On Sept. 4, investigators said that one of Chang Guann’s lard-based products allegedly used oil reclaimed from kitchen waste and grease from leather processing plants provided by an illegal business run by Kuo Lieh-cheng (郭烈成), who was detained on Sept. 6.
On Thursday, about 24 Chang Guann oil products were recalled as investigators found that for years the Greater Kaohsiung-based company had imported lard intended for animal feed production and other industrial uses from Hong Kong and allegedly used it to make edible oils.
More than 1,000 food companies and restaurants around Taiwan have been affected by the scandal, forcing the recall of numerous food products, from snacks to instant noodles and traditional Chinese cakes.
The businesses affected include Wei Chuan Foods Corp (味全食品工業), Vedan (味丹), Mos Burger and Taipei Leechi (台北犁記), a shop known for its popular pineapple cakes and other sweets.
There were concerns that the fallout could hurt the nation’s image as a nation of good food and undermine consumer confidence in the short term.
It is the second major incident in less than a year involving edible oils.
In October last year, several well-established companies, including Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co (大統長基) and Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團) admitted to mixing lower-grade oils with more expensive ones to sell at higher prices.
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