Hualien County takes oils off shelves

‘EXTREME METHODS’::The county government urged distributors to remove even products not proven to be adulterated, to prevent similar incidents in the future

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer

Tue, Nov 12, 2013 - Page 1

The Hualien County Government yesterday urged major distributors in the county to take products from Wei Chuan Food Corp (味全), Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co (大統長基), Formosa Oilseed Processing Co (福懋) and Flavor Full Foods (富味鄉) off the shelves regardless of whether they have passed safety tests, which Hualien County Commissioner Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁) said was the only way to prevent such incidents from occurring again.

The four companies have become embroiled in a food safety scandal in which they were all discovered to have been adulterating their edible oils with lower-grade oils, such as cottonseed oil or canola oil, as well as using illegal additives, such as copper chlorophyllin.

Pulling all products from these companies off the shelves would not only serve as a warning to them and other businesses, but would also decrease the possibility of further contaminated goods showing up, the Chinese-language United Daily Evening News cited Fu as saying.

Fu said that the series of food scares in recent years, from the plasticizer issue in 2011 and the toxic starch incident in May to the discovery of adulterated edible oils in the past month, had seriously damaged Taiwan’s reputation for quality food, adding that the public was left with doubts after government efforts to maintain food safety, such as the Good Manufacturing Process certification, proved useless, the report said.

“Only through such extreme methods will businesspeople actually be forced to pay fines and compensation before thinking of selling their products,” it quoted Fu as saying.

However, he said that the county government had not issued an administrative order obliging all distributors to pull the four companies’ products, but would only try to convince the distributors to do the right thing, the report said.

All costs incurred by pulling the products from the shelves would be absorbed by the distributors, and they would have nothing more to show for it except a clean conscience and a medal from the county government, Fu said in the report.

As well as inspecting the major distributors in the county, the Hualien County Bureau of Health also inspected 355 night market stalls across the county, and the county government was glad to find that none of the vendors had used any of the adulterated oils, the report said.

Fu and a bureau of health representative accompanied dump trucks carrying the pulled products to the Lize Township (利澤) incinerator and witnessed the products’ destruction, the report said.