An affidavit guaranteeing that the list of ingredients on edible oil products’ labels is accurate, which health authorities required manufacturers to provide before Thursday last week, is said to have failed to achieve what it was intended to do, as at least 10 of the 11 companies found to have adulterated their products had signed the affidavit.
The 10 companies that are subject to fraud inquiries include listed companies Formosa Oilseed Processing Co and Ting Hsin International Group, which both provided the guarantee, but were found to have used Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co’s adulterated oil.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Acting Director-General Shiu Ming-neng yesterday morning said that Ting Hsin’s factory in Pingtung County did not sign the affidavit.
However, its factory in Changhua County and Wei Chuan Food Corp, a subsidiary of Ting Hsin that has its oil products manufactured at Ting Hsin’s Pingtung factory, did.
The confusion led Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-jen (吳育仁) to question the effectiveness of the affidavit in a legislative plenary session, when “the upstream signs with the downstream unaware of it [and vice versa].”
Shiu said that providing the affidavits was “voluntary” and allowed the companies to show that they were “self-regulated and honest,” adding that he did not expect the firms to be dishonest.
KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) called the food companies that lied on their affidavits “degenerate” and said that they cannot be trusted with self-regulation. She called for legal action to ensure that food manufacturers have their materials examined routinely.
Shiu, who is also the vice minister of health and welfare, agreed and said that the ministry aims to revise the rules to require food manufacturers to provide raw material samples for testing or to have them sent to a third-party laboratory on a regular basis.
The Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certificate, which was also intended as a guarantee of quality, was also criticized yesterday in the session, with lawmakers calling the certificates into question as Chang Chi, Formosa Oilseed and Ting Hsin (Wei Chuan) all had GMP certificates for their oil products or factories.
It was also revealed yesterday that Wei Chuan chairman Wei Ying-chun (魏應充) is the president of the Taiwan Food GMP Development Association.
Wei, before it was discovered that Wei Chuan had been using Chang Chi’s adulterated oil, said that the GMP system depends on the honesty of the firms participating and it is not effective against those inclined to fraud.
Concerning the copper chlorophyllin that was added to Chang Chi’s edible oil, the FDA reiterated that the substance is not “toxic” as it is widely added to candies or gums, but said that it would continue its investigation into where the imported copper chlorophyllin has gone.
Admitting that he has no information on whether it is produced domestically, Shiu said: “To our current knowledge, there are four importers in the country and we will figure out whether the substance has been sold to oil manufacturers."