Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors yesterday questioned what they said was continued use of problematic cooking oils at public schools and city hospitals amid the latest food scare involving edible oil products, and slammed the city government, saying it was negligent on food safety issues.
As the Ministry of Health and Welfare instructed local health authorities to suspend the sale of cooking oils from edible oil producer Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co and other manufacturers of adulterated cooking oils, Taipei City Yu Cheng High School continued to use cooking oils from Formosa Oilseed Processing Co, which purchased oils from Chang Chi and sold adulterated cooking oils, they said.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Hung Chien-yi (洪健益) said the purchase list from the school on Oct. 28 included cooking oil from Formosa Oilseed, despite a Department of Health assurance on Oct. 22 that no adulterated cooking oils were being used by public schools for school lunches.
“The health of Taipei’s students is at risk because of the city government’s negligence. Someone should step down to take responsibility,” he said yesterday during a question-and-answer session at a Taipei City Council meeting.
Department of Education Chief Secretary Chen Shun-ho (陳順和) said the school made the purchase because the cooking oil was ordered in advance, but the oil product was not used after the food safety scandal broke.
Department of Health Commissioner Lin Chi-hung (林奇宏) said the health department is continuing to supervise the use of cooking oils at public schools.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) questioned the use of cooking oils from Chang Chi at all Taipei City Hospital branches and demanded that the city government ensure the safety of patients at city hospitals.
About 70,000 patients visited the hospitals every year, and the hospitals have used soy bean oils from Chang Chi and sesame oils from another problematic manufacturer, Flavor Full Food Inc, this year, he said.
“Many patients eat the food prepared by the hospital, and the city government must not ignore the issue of food safety in public hospitals. The city should make sure that the cooking oils are safe,” he said.
Taipei City Hospital president Chang Sheng-yuan (張聖原) said the city hospital stopped using the problematic oils immediately after the food safety scandal started and will negotiate a new contract with other manufacturers for next year.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) said that as the workload of the Department of Health has increased due to a string of food safety scandals in recent years, the city government should increase both manpower and budget for food inspections.
The department’s annual budget for food inspections is about NT$40 million (US$1.3 million).