The Department of Health (DOH) ordered a food company to take three products off the market yesterday following reports that tonnes of substandard milk powder might have made their way onto the market, while two more firms are under investigation.
Tsai Shu-chen (蔡淑貞), a section chief of the Food and Drug Administration, said three products from Ascar Food Co in Yunlin County will be taken off shelves immediately and recalled if they are confirmed to have violated safety regulations.
Two other food companies — Ching Liang Food Co in Changhua County, and Guanxin Food Industrial Co in Greater Tainan — will have some of their beverages, including cow and goat milk products examined by health officials.
The department took the action after the Tainan Prosecutors’ Office said on Thursday that it had seized 19 tonnes of suspect milk powder and that 10 more tonnes might have reached the market.
The prosecutors said Guanxin purchased powder from a salesman, Chang Che-cheng (張哲誠), of New Tai Milk Products Co that was mixed with other raw materials to produce goat milk and flavored milks, which were then sold to breakfast shops and schools.
Chang allegedly also sold questionable milk powder to Ching Liang and Ascar at 30 to 50 percent of the normal price.
New Tai Milk Products said the milk powder does not have mold or mildew, but it was about to expire or had damaged packaging, adding that it was “not for human consumption.”
“The issue highlights a loophole in the recall channel for expired and unqualified food,” Tsai said.
She assured the public that baby milk formula was not involved in the substandard milk powder probe.
She said that baby formula must be registered and approved by the department and that all the raw materials are imported, so that there should be no misgivings that locally sold formula has been tainted by the milk powder in question.
Meanwhile, New Tai Milk Products Co issued a statement saying that one of its salesmen had not followed corporate procedures for dealing with substandard products, and had sold them to clients.
“The salesman has admitted that he acted alone and that his actions had nothing to do with company policy,” New Tai said.
Guanxin said the cheap milk powder it purchased had damaged packaging and was delivered to sheep farmers for use in feed, adding it had not used the powder in its products.
Several sheep farmers showed up at a news conference called by Guanxin yesterday to back the company’s version of events.
Tainan health officials checked breakfast outlets and Guanxin products, but found no evidence of unsafe drinks or raw materials.