Rice is safe, we made error: King-Town

‘SIMPLY INCREDIBLE’::The firm said it misread the types of pesticides in the report that led to the recall. The Department of Health and Council of Agriculture are investigating

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Sun, Nov 04, 2012 - Page 1

One day after initiating a recall of its products over pesticide residue concerns, executives of King-Town Rice Co (金墩米) yesterday said they had misread a test report and that the company’s rice was safe for consumption.

King-Town general manager Shen Yung-chih (沈永志) and King-Town assistant general manager Hsiao Yi-ho (蕭益和) said they had misread a test report, leading them to believe that rice produced by contract farmers had pesticide residue problems.

“The company decided to recall some types of its packaged rice for the sake of the rights of consumers,” Shen said. “The company will have to absorb the losses incurred by the recall.”

Hsiao, who started in his position in August, said that when he first received the report, he had difficulties understanding it because it was written in professional jargon.

“We want to extend our deepest apologies for any trouble caused to consumers,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Changhua-based company recalled 21 different types of King-Town packaged rice, out of concern that the products might contain excessive levels of fenitrothion and phenthoate, which it discovered through samples sent for examinations last month.

However, late on Friday, the company said it had mistaken the pesticide residues for fenitrothion and phenthoate, when they were actually chlorpyrifos and sterilants. Further tests showed the rice was safe for human consumption, it said.

In response to the company’s changing statement, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) on Friday evening said: “It is a mistake that should not be forgiven,” adding that the council has sent samples of all the company’s products for testing.

The company’s decision to recall its products has led the Department of Health and the Council of Agriculture to establish an investigation team to investigate the case.

Agriculture and Food Agency Director Li Tsang-lang (李蒼郎) said yesterday the company had given conflicting statements and that he would meet company officials later to ascertain which statement was correct.

Li said the council had sent samples of all 23 types of rice products from the company and 10 types of rice products from other brands for testing. The results would be revealed to the public tomorrow.

Li said a big company like King-Town, one of the nation’s top five small-packaged rice suppliers, should have a better management method and added that the controversy was “simply incredible.”