Mon, Jul 11, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Taichung investigates ‘youtiao’ maker

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A small-scale Taichung food producer that specializes in deep fried dough sticks (youtiao, 油條), has reportedly been producing its products in an extremely dirty environment and using old oil, and city health authorities have launched an investigation.

The Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday reported that journalists responding to tips visited a youtiao factory in the city’s Dali District (大里) in late May and on Saturday, and discovered the factory was extremely dirty and lacked pollution-prevention measures.

In addition, the man frying the youtiao was only half-dressed, and the frying oil was as dark and thick as old engine oil, the report said.

The youtiao were removed from the frier, placed in a filthy basket on the ground and cooled by a roadside fan before the man gathered the cool sticks in his bare hands and put them in plastic bags, the newspaper reported.

The Apple Daily reporters estimated that the man was frying more than 100 youtiao an hour, so the factory could be producing more than 1,000 per day.

It quoted the man as saying he replaced the frying oil “when he felt like it,” and that wholesalers or shops came to collect bags of youtiao from him.

The Taichung Health Bureau said it had launched an investigation into the allegations, but the factory was closed yesterday and investigators have not been able to contact the owner. It said it would follow up on the case.

The bureau said frying oil can easily go bad due to chemical reactions with water and oxygen, and food coated with flour can leave crumbs, so food manufacturers should frequently replace frying oil.

Food that has been fried in old oil can cause gastrointestinal upsets, vomiting, liver damage, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

Taichung Health Bureau Director Hsu Yung-nien (徐永年) said food manufacturers should ensure public food safety, and if an investigation confirms the factory has violated food safety regulations, it could be fined between NT$60,000 and NT$200 million (US$1,857 and US$6.2 million).

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