Tue, Jul 14, 2009 - Page 3 News List

McDonald’s says safety of consumers is its priority

‘BACILLUS CEREUS’ First, cooking oil. Now, in a separate health scare, more than 300,000 packs of ‘Ovalteenies’ are being recalled after lab tests found contaminants

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Filth floats on the surface of oil in a deep-fat fryer at a restaurant in Hsinchu County yesterday.

PHOTO: HUANG MEI-CHU, TAIPEI TIMES

McDonald’s said in a statement yesterday that it “respected legal procedures” and that consumers’ health and safety was its primary concern.

The company’s statement came after Taipei County Government Legal Affairs Bureau Director Chen Kun-jung (陳坤榮) yesterday confirmed that the Taipei County Government would fine McDonald’s between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000 according to Article 11 of the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) after cooking oil in two of its restaurants in Tucheng (土城) tested positive for arsenic on June 21.

The arsenic levels at the outlets were 1.038 parts per million (ppm) and 0.923ppm. The legal limit for arsenic in Taiwan is 0.1ppm.

Chen had earlier told a press conference that he was “unhappy with McDonald’s reaction” on Sunday after news of the fine first broke.

“They should at least have communicated with us to see how this problem can be fixed, rather than make comments on TV,” Chen said. “I really don’t understand.”

The company’s statement insisted that its food and oil were safe.

“The Department of Health’s (DOH) latest tests on 183 samples of edible oil showed that our oil is safe and meets national standards,” the statement read.

“Restaurants can appeal before July 23 and demand a repeat test. If test results show their frying oil is safe, we will drop the fine,” said Hsu Ming-neng (許銘能), head of Taipei County Government’s health department.

Meanwhile, the DOH yesterday reminded fast food restaurants of their legal right to appeal if they failed tests.

“There is a 15-day mercy period for companies to issue an appeal,” DOH spokesman Wang Jet-chau (王哲超) said.

“If there is no appeal within 15 days, local governments will then issue the fines. The DOH fully endorses this course of action,” he said.

In related news, Taipei City Government’s Department of Health yesterday announced that packets of “Ovalteenies” had been found to be contaminated with the Bacillus cereus bacterium.

The bacterium can cause sickness and diarrhea.

The city government said it would fine Taiwan Hsin Lin Enterprise Co (欣臨) between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000 in accordance with Article 31-1 of the Act Governing Food Sanitation.

The department said the contamination was discovered on July 2.

Taiwan Hsin Lin has recalled a total of 304,128 packs of “Ovalteenies.”

The new discovery yesterday had nothing to do with the first problem.

“Something must be wrong with the manufacturing,” said Lin Chin-fu (林金富), head of the department’s Food and Drug Division.

Lin said that Taiwan Hsin Lin told them that “Ovalteenies” were made in Thailand and that they have told the manufacturer to avoid repeating the mistake.

He also urged the public to return “Ovalteenies” for a full refund.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AGENCIES

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