The government should impose heavier fines on the manufacturer who broke the law by selling adulterated cooking oil, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.
As of Tuesday, the Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co had been fined NT$28.6 million (US$972,700).
While that was a record for a company violating the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法), it was small change compared with the company’s annual sales of NT$1.5 billion, the foundation said.
Chang Chi should be given the maximum fine for each of the 59 violations uncovered so far, which range from manufacturing and selling mislabeled, adulterated and counterfeit products to putting banned food additives in its products, the foundation said.
Chang Chi was fined the maximum NT$200,000 for mislabeling its oils, but only NT$100,000 for each charge related to counterfeit and adulterated products, and NT$2 million for each case of banned additives, the foundation said.
The fines for the last two categories could have been as high as NT$3 million and NT$15 million respectively, it added.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare should ask health officials in Changhua County, where the company is based, to issue heavier fines as a deterrent to other food manufacturers, the foundation said.
Meanwhile, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) reititerated his determination to ensure food safety by launching a citywide inspection of cooking oils used in restaurants, but urged the central government to hand out stiffer punishments.
“Selling illegal food products will slowly affect the public’s health and it is not much different to murder,” said Hau, who once taught food science.
Meanwhile, during a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) urged the health ministry to adopt the Administrative Penalty Act (行政罰法), which allows authorities to impose fines beyond the maximum if violators are found to have made huge gains from an unlawful practice.
Bureau of Medical Affairs Director Hsu Ming-neng (許銘能) told Tien that the ministry is studying the methods used to calculate what could be considered Chang Chi’s illegal gains and is expected to come up with a figure by Wednesday.
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih