Impure cooking oil puts soldiers at risk: legislators

By Jason Pan  /  Staff writer

Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - Page 3

Taiwan’s soldiers are sapped of their virility and drained of their fighting strength due to long-term consumption of adulterated cooking oil products like those supplied by Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said yesterday.

“The cooking oil products [made by Chang Chi] were found to be mixed with cottonseed oil. This particular kind of oil is known to impair male hormones, reduce sperm count, cause sterility and weaken men’s vitality and physical strength,” Tsai said.

“These effects have damaged the combat readiness and depleted the fighting strength of our nation’s military forces. So this Chang Chi cooking oil scandal is actually is a very serious national security issue,” he said, as he questioned officials during a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

Tsai was referring to the latest food scandal, involving adulterated cooking oil products made by Chang Chi, with potentially harmful additives, food coloring and cheap substitute ingredients.

News reports indicated the Changhua County-based food company, with its wide range of cooking oil and edible oil product lines, for many years has been a regular supplier to the Ministry of National Defense, military bases, supply stations and sales channels under the Military Welfare Department, which provides food and grocery items for purchase by service personnel and their dependents.

As such, the DPP legislator demanded the ministry make a thorough check at all units under its administration for inferior cooking oil and edible oil products, and he urged it to implement measures for regular and random food testing in the ministry sales channels and at all kitchen units for military mess halls.

Tsai and other legislators accused ministry officials of negligence, saying it is now too late to make amends, because Taiwan’s officers and soldiers have ingested these adulterated oil products for at least a decade.

In response to the questioning, Political Warfare Bureau Director-General Wang Ming-wo (王明我) admitted that 51 products manufactured by Chang Chi Co were supplied to ministry sales channels and unit stations, but said they were taken off the shelves after the scandal broke last week.

“The Ministry of National Defense should be proactive in this matter to protect the health of our nation’s soldiers,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said.

He asked the ministry to seek compensation from Chang Chi, as adulterated oil products have been used by mess hall kitchens to prepare meals for the currently enlisted 200,000 personnel at military bases.

Combined Logistics Command deputy director Hsiao Wei-min (蕭維民) acknowledged that military mess hall kitchens recently used Chang Chi products, including the company’s soybean oil and sunflower seed oil, both in 18-liter containers, and its rice wine in 3-liter bottles.

He said the ministry would conduct reviews to find out if military service personnel had been affected or have developed health problems from consuming Chang Chi oil products, and if so, the ministry would explore ways to seek compensation for those individuals.