Food manufacturer Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團) yesterday apologized for its slow response in recalling 21 oil products it made using adulterated oil from Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co (大統長基).
Ting Hsin only recalled the 21 products — sold under the Wei Chuan (味全) brand — on Sunday, 19 days after Chang Chi’s oil was discovered to contain illicit substances.
“We will take full responsibility for the incident and spare no effort to protect our customers,” Ting Hsin chairman Wei Ying-chun (魏應充) said at a press conference.
Wei said he had not known that Chang Chi’s oil contained the illegal substance copper chlorophyllin until Chang Chi chairman Kao Cheng-li (高振利) confessed to prosecutors on Saturday.
Ting Hsin said the price of Chang Chi’s oil was not so unreasonably low as to arouse suspicion. The adulterated oil cost NT$93 per liter, which is only slightly lower than the average wholesale price of NT$95 to NT$100 per liter for imported oil, Ting Hsin said.
The company purchased the oil from Chang Chi instead of from manufacturers abroad because it only uses a relatively small quantity of 30 tonnes a year to make its products, it said.
Ting Hsin subsidiary Wei Chuan Foods Corp is to give NT$50 million (US$1.7 million) in refunds to customers who bought the 21 products, Wei said, adding that customers are eligible for a refund even if they do not have the receipts or have already opened the products.
Chang Mei-feng (常梅峰), the general manager of Ting Hsin’s oil division, has resigned to take responsibility for the issue and the group will set up an investigation team to determine who else should be held accountable, Wei said.
In addition, Wei said he has also resigned as chairman of the government-funded private organization that issues Good Manufacturing Practice certificates.
Wei Chuan bought 2.13 million kilograms of soybean oil from Chang Chi to make vegetable oil, but Wei Chuan president Chang Chiao-hua (張教華) said his company stopped using that oil in August.
Ting Hsin said the company also shipped the tainted oil to China’s Fujian Province so it informed Chinese dealers on Monday to pull the products from the shelves.
Wei Ying-heng (魏應行), who is also chairman of the group and Wei Ying-chun’s younger brother, said the oil used in Ting Hsin’s fried chicken fast-food chain Dicos (德克士) is palm oil imported from Malaysia, as is the oil used to make instant noodles under the group’s Master Kong (康師傅) brand and the oil in the sauce for its noodles.
The group did not take its products off the market immediately because two separate tests conducted after Oct. 16 showed that the oil it used did not contain copper chlorophyllin or gossypol, Wei Ying-heng said.