Sun, May 07, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Wholesaler fined in expired meat scam

SUPPRESSED:A former delivery driver said he filmed workers removing expiry labels from frozen meat products that were then allegedly relabeled and sold

Staff writer, with CNA

Taichung Department of Health Director Lu Tsung-hsueh yesterday holds up a copy of a fine issued to Lichin Foods Co for storing and selling expired frozen meat products.

Photo: CNA

A Taichung-based meat importer and wholesaler has been fined for storing and selling meat products past their use-by date, with more than 15.6 tonnes of meat products confiscated, health authorities said yesterday.

Lichin Foods Co (力勤農產) was fined NT$6 million (US$198,794) for storing and selling expired frozen pig intestines and frozen chicken drumsticks, the Taichung City Government Health Bureau said.

The Food and Drug Administration on April 21 received a tip-off that the company was allegedly selling expired products.

On April 26, the city government received a similar tip-off, so it sent health authorities to inspect the company’s premises, the bureau said.

Authorities confiscated 15,608kg of suspicious meat products, including 333 boxes of frozen pork intestines that had their labels removed, and 220 boxes of frozen chicken drumsticks that expired on Dec. 22 last year and Jan. 5.

Authorities also found 1,674 boxes of unlabeled frozen boneless pork.

Bureau Director Lu Tsung-hsueh (呂宗學) said records show that Lichin Foods imported the batch of pig intestines in 2013, which expired on July 1 last year, but the company continued to sell about 748kg of the expired product.

Media reports yesterday said the whistle-blower, a former Lichin Foods delivery driver, said he saw his boss, surnamed Liang (梁), telling employees to remove expiration date labels from the products.

The former driver filmed employees removing labels and gave the footage to the health bureau last month after quitting his job, the reports said.

He posted the footage on social media on Thursday after saying that the bureau was trying to cover up the incident.

Lu yesterday apologized for the delay in announcing the inspection results, adding that the bureau expects to meet with company officials on Tuesday.

The expired meat scandal came just three days after two other companies were accused of selling expired cashew nuts, almonds, oatmeal and brown-sugar products. One of the products had a 2008 expiry date.

Food and Drug Administration Southern Center for Regional Administration section chief Yang Chien-hui (楊千慧) said Mother Nature Co (春橋田) and Taiwan Naturals and Organics Inc (台灣有機), which are owned by the same person, allegedly repackaged expired food products, printed new expiration dates and sold the items to local stores.

After inspecting the companies’ factories, Yang said her agency confiscated 31 food items weighing about 29 tonnes.

The owner, surnamed Hsu (許), and three company employees were released on bail on Thursday after being questioned by prosecutors.

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