Flavor Full Food Inc (富味鄉), a major local sesame oil producer, has admitted having adulterated 24 of its products sold on the domestic market with cheaper cottonseed oil, health officials said yesterday.
The company also admitted to adding flavoring agents to one of its peanut oil products, officials from the New Taipei City (新北市) Government’s Public Health Department said, adding that the company has been fined a total of NT$8 million (US$272,260) for 25 violations.
Prosecutors charged the firm’s owner, Chen Wen-nan (陳文南), with violating the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法). Chen was released on NT$2.5 million bail yesterday afternoon.
Chen later yesterday also offered a public apology for the company’s “severe negligence,” adding that the 24 types of products adulterated with cottonseed oil were not harmful to consumers.
Flavor Full is the only importer of crude cottonseed oil in Taiwan besides Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co (大統長基), which is also involved in the current adulterated oil scandal.
Suspicions over Flavor Full products were raised after Chang Chi was found to have refined the cottonseed oil and then blended it with its Tatung-brand edible oil products to save production costs.
Flavor Full had previously claimed that the cottonseed oil it processed was only for export and that the oil was never used for products destined for domestic consumption.
However, the company admitted to New Taipei City Government investigators on Wednesday that it had lied.
The city government inspected a Flavor Full warehouse in the city’s Wugu District (五股) on Monday and sampled 11 products to be sent for testing.
The results are expected in a week’s time.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has launched an investigation into all 163 edible oil producers in Taiwan.
As of yesterday, 138 of them had been inspected, Minister of Health and Welfare Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) said.
Separately yesterday, former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-te (施明德) said that he and a group of friends would file a class-action lawsuit against Flavor Full Food to seek compensation over its adulterated edible oil products.
Shih said he paid close attention to health and food safety after being diagnosed with liver cancer in 2001, and began to purchase only natural organic products. He said that his household’s organic sesame oil was all from Flavor Full, adding that he had also recommended Flavor Full Food products to his friends.
Shih said he would donate any damages awarded from the litigation to charitable organizations.