The Chinese-language Business Weekly yesterday afternoon submitted the examination data it used to write its recent investigative report on allegedly tainted milk products to the Ministry of Health and Welfare and questioned the government’s test results that countered the magazine’s findings.
At issue was a report by the Business Weekly, published earlier this week, that said veterinary drugs, including antibiotics such as azepines, as well as estrogen, tranquilizers or antidepressants, were found in 70 percent of the milk products tested by associate professor Chen Liang-yu (陳良宇) of Ming Chuan University earlier this month.
Amid the public scare, the Council of Agriculture conducted tests of its own and found that eight out of the nine milk products that were named in the report had no antibiotics or pain relief agents and “conformed to national standards.”
The council said it conducted the examinations using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), adding that the method is more accurate than the method used by Chen.
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday said the magazine and Chen were to provide — by 4pm yesterday — information regarding the methods they used to test the milk products or face a fine of NT$300,000 (US$1,000).
After submitting the data at 3pm yesterday, the magazine said that many international organizations have already adopted higher standards for testing banned drugs, but “our government still lacks sufficient testing items, and has much space to improve in its concept on and methodology of drug testing.”
Although the government continues to release drug residue testing results that say “no detection” or “meets regulated standards,” the government has not answered whether the milk products that children drink every day contain residues of the five types of banned drugs mentioned in the magazine report, it said.
The magazine said the council and ministry should “investigate thoroughly the nation’s milk products, establish standards for milk-product testing and honestly deal with the traces of abnormality found in milk products.”
In related news, a company named by the report on Friday has filed a defamation suit against what it said was a false report by Business Weekly.
Liao Ming-cheng (廖銘正), manager of Bifado, said that since the report came out, sales of its products have slipped by 30 percent, causing the company to lose between NT$30 million and NT$40 million.
The company said it will calculate its total losses before filing a separate civil suit against the magazine for compensation.
Upon learning of the lawsuit, Business Weekly said that it would follow due process.
The magazine said it commissioned Chen to conduct tests on local milk products. The tests were not conducted in a laboratory at Ming Chuan University, but they were conducted at an institute that has been accredited by the government.
“We have confidence in its integrity,” the magazine said of the institute, adding that it would not reveal its identity for the time being.