Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday described the local Top Pot Bakery chain’s use of artificial flavoring essences in its baked goods as fraud and said the city government will report the case to prosecutors for further investigation.
The bakery, which advertised that all of its breads were made with natural ingredients, admitted that it actually used edible flavoring essences in its products last week. Taipei City’s Department of Health fined the company NT$180,000 on Friday for violating articles 28 and 45 of the Food Sanitation Act (食品衛生管理法) by running deceptive and misleading advertisements.
Hau, a food science expert, yesterday condemned the bakery chain for deceiving its customers who purchased expensive breads claimed to be made with only fresh and natural ingredients.
Taipei City’s Department of Legal Affairs and the Department of Health are to collect more evidence and report the case to prosecutors, he said.
“The bakery’s behavior is abominable, and the city government will not tolerate its act to deceive customers. We will list the bakery as a top target in future inspections,” he said on the sidelines of a visit to a shelter for the disabled under the Jianguo Overpass.
Hau also instructed the city’s ombudsmen to help customers with receipts to claim refunds from the bakery.
In the wake of the disclosure, the bakery chain closed its stores for three days starting yesterday, and promised to accept refunds from Tuesday.
Taipei City’s Department of Labor Commissioner Chen Yeh-hsin (陳業鑫) said the department will instruct the company to pay its employees full salaries during the three days, and will keep close contact with the employer to prevent the company going bankrupt.
The bakery became popular after it opened its first store last year, appealing to those wishing to eat only natural ingredients.
The controversy over the ingredients used at the bakery chain began earlier this week when a Hong Kong blogger posted an article accusing the chain of lying to customers because it had used artificial ingredients in its products.