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Wed, Jan 03, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Man who nearly ate a cockroach asks for NT$2m

HYGIENE Wei Chuan, a major food producer, rejected the man's compensation request as `unreasonable' and said that it was only bound by law to offer him NT$70

By Chuang Chi-ting  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Kaohsiung City resident yesterday complained about finding a large cockroach in a can of food produced by Wei Chuan Foods Corp (味全食品), a well known food company. The company has rejected the customer's request for NT$2 million in compensation.

Wei Chuan said it would only offer compensation three times the price of the can of food -- about NT$70. The two sides have not come to any agreement yet.

The unfortunate customer, Tseng Wen-chuan (曾文詮), reported the case to Kaohsiung City's health department yesterday. Tseng said he found the cockroach in a can of flour gluten (麵筋), a foodstuff derived from wheat flour commonly eaten at breakfast, that he bought for a late night snack in December.

Tseng said that by the time he discovered the cockroach, he had already eaten half of the can's contents.

"I was picking through the gluten with my chopsticks when I found a roach," Tseng said. "I felt like puking. My wife vomited right after seeing it," he complained.

Kaohsiung City's health department said the cockroach was two to three centimeters long. The case has been transferred to Taichung County's health department, where the manufacturing factory is located, to determine how the roach got in the can.

Tseng asked for a compensation of NT$2 million but Wei Chuan firmly refused his request. The company said yesterday it would only offer compensation worth three times the price of the can, which meets the lowest requirement in regulations regarding compensation in such cases.

The company said Tseng's request was "unreasonable."

"We have shown our sincerity by visiting Tseng twice before the case was exposed to the health department and the media," the company said. "We also tried to persuade Tseng to return the can of food to us so that we could better determine how the problem arose but he refused our request.

"The value of goods we offered Tseng as a consolation far exceeds the compensation requirements of relevant regulations."

The company said it had offered Tseng a packet of fried shredded meat (肉鬆) with a value of NT$600 and more cans of the gluten.

Wei Chuan complained that Tseng posted a picture of the cockroach with the food can on the Internet. The company said it might file a lawsuit against Tseng for this reason after legal consultation. "[Tseng's] action is harmful to traditional industries that have already suffered greatly from the economic depression," the company said.

"Tseng has damaged our company's reputation before responsibility for the incident has been identified," the company said.

The Consumers' Foundation (消基會) said Wei Chuan seems to have shown little sincerity in the dispute considering its low compensation offer. The foundation said that rarely would a company offer so little to appease a customer in such cases.

On the other hand, the foundation said Tseng's request for compensation was unreasonable. The foundation said that victims in similar cases usually receive either an additional amount of the product concerned with an apology, or a monetary compensation up to several thousand NT dollars.

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