Health authorities in Greater Tainan said on Wednesday that they would slap a fine of NT$18 million (US$600,000) on the owner of a starch company after he was caught for a second time selling products containing an industrial adhesive not approved for use in food.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Tainan District Court granted a request by prosecutors that Hsu Tung-ming (徐東銘), owner of the starch company Mao-Li Co, should be held incommunicado to prevent him from collaborating with others.
In October, Greater Tainan health officials found a night market food vendor using starch containing maleic anhydride and traced it to Hsu’s company after a two-month investigation.
Prosecutors raided the company on Tuesday and seized 350 tonnes of tainted starch. On Wednesday, they raided the shop of a midstream supplier surnamed Wang, as well as his daughter’s house, collecting 47 tonnes of the product.
Greater Tainan’s Department of Health Director Lin Sheng-che (林聖哲) said Mao-Li would be fined NT$15 million in accordance with the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法), and NT$3 million for hiding a large amount of tainted starch during the first raid in May.
Lin said Hsu was “wily and malicious.”
He said Hsu used recycled starch bags from other companies and filled them with the tainted starch, and even made up new brands to promote his product.
Lin said the department has not ruled out obtaining an injunction against Hsu’s property and ordering the business to close.
When Mao-Li was first found to be selling tainted starch, it was fined just NT$120,000, because at that time, the food sanitation law had not been revised and strengthened.
Hsu told prosecutors that Mao-Li’s sales plunged after he was ordered to destroy the 32 tonnes of tainted starch and pay the fine in May. He said he hid the 350 tonnes at that time because he could not stand “such heavy losses.”