Wed, Nov 27, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Cafe chain boss questioned over mixing beans

MONEY RETURNED:Full Fill Industrial allegedly made illicit gains of about NT$10 million by mixing Arabica and cheaper Robusta beans and selling them as pure Arabica

By staff writer, with CNA

Barista Coffee’s flagship outlet near the Taipei World Trade Center on Xinyi Road is pictured yesterday.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

The general manager of Full Fill Industrial Co (馥餘), which operates the Barista Coffee chain, was released on NT$3 million (US$98,322) bail after being questioned over suspected false labeling of the chain’s coffee bean products, the Shilin District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday.

The company allegedly mixed Robusta and Arabica coffee beans and sold them as 100 percent Arabica to save costs, the office said.

Prosecutors last month began investigating the allegation after receiving a tip-off, it said.

Led by the office, officials from the Investigation Bureau, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Taipei Department of Health on Monday searched the company’s offices and production facilities, it said.

It summoned the general manager, surnamed Liu (劉), a factory manager surnamed Lee (李), an employee surnamed Ho (何) and three witnesses for questioning, the office said.

The investigation found that 13 of the company’s coffee bean products labeled as 100 percent Arabica contained Robusta beans, it said.

Prosecutors estimated the illegal proceeds from the products to be about NT$10 million.

Liu, Lee and Ho are suspected of contravening articles 15 and 49 of the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法) and Article 255 of the Criminal Code by selling mixed coffee beans under a false label, the office said.

After questioning, Lee and Ho were released on bail of NT$200,000 and NT$50,000 respectively, it said.

Earlier yesterday, Liu returned NT$10 million of suspected illegal proceeds and expressed his willingness to cooperate with investigators, it said.

He also promised to apologize to the public on behalf of the company and refund customers, it added.

Retailers have been asked to remove the problematic products from shelves by 3pm tomorrow, the FDA said.

The products have been sold at Barista Coffee stores and the Carrefour, RT-Mart, A.Mart, PX Mart hypermarkets, as well as the PChome and ibon online stores, it said.

Customers who have purchased the products can ask for a refund from Barista Coffee by presenting the product or proof of purchase, FDA official Chen Yi-ting (陳怡婷) said.

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