Thu, Jun 16, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Cheng I Food Co to pay NT$9.36m compensation

TWO PERCENT:The Consumer Protection Association of Taiwan said it had sought NT$478.35 million, but the judge said the company was also a victim in the case

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Workers walk through Cheng I Food Co’s factory in Kaohsiung yesterday. The factory suspended operations following a cooking oil scandal in 2014 and is preparing to close down.

Photo: Tsai Ching-hua, Taipei Times

Cheng I Food Co (正義食品) was yesterday ordered to pay NT$9.36 million (US$288,524) in compensation to more than 3,000 people after a class-action lawsuit filed by the Consumer Protection Association of Taiwan in a tainted cooking oil case from 2014.

The association said the decision by the Kaohsiung District Court fell short of the public’s expectations, as the case was filed on behalf of more than 5,000 people, who requested NT$90,000 each for a total of NT$478.35 million.

“We are disappointed by the ruling and the court did not take into account the damage to consumers’ health, so we will certainly appeal,” association officials said.

The decision was the first ruling on the case and it can be appealed.

The ruling requires the company to pay less than 2 percent of the total compensation sought through the lawsuit against Cheng I Food, a subsidiary of Ting Hsin International Group (頂新國際集團).

Cheng I Food allegedly mixed low-grade animal feed oil with cooking oil and sold it for human consumption with packaging and marketing efforts to make it appear to be high-grade cooking oil.

Investigators said that Cheng I Food purchased animal feed oil from Hsin Hao Corp (鑫好企業), a one-man operation based in Kaohsiung, whose proprietor, Wu Jung-ho (吳容合), was a sales representative for Cheng I Food until he resigned in 2004.

Wu has been charged with fraud and breaching the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法).

Presiding Judge Shih Po-hung (施柏宏) said Cheng I Food was not aware of the source of the products it purchased from the suppliers and therefore the company was also a victim in the case.

Shih said the compensation figure was based on the cooking oil’s use to prepare meals at 23 schools with a total of 3,123 students at NT$3,000 per student.

Cheng I Food yesterday released a statement saying that the company respects the rights of consumers and fully understands the importance of food safety.

It added that in February, the court had found the company not guilty of criminal practices in a related case.

The statement said that the court had agreed with the company’s stance in the just-concluded case that it was not attempting to defraud its customers, but that the “company was deceived by our supplier” and the “supplier sold questionable oil to our company and we were not aware of the situation.”

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