Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) yesterday said the council’s initial investigation on Tuesday found no evidence that Ting Hsin International Group pressed the cottonseed it purchased into cottonseed oil, but agreed to look further into the case.
At the legislature’s Economics Committee ad hoc meeting on issues of food safety, and unclear labeling of rice and tea products, several legislators questioned the council and the Ministry of Health and Welfare regarding the use of imported cottonseed.
The council announced on Tuesday that its initial investigation of about 1,380 tonnes of cottonseed imported by five companies showed that three animal feed companies and one trading company all used it for an ingredient in animal feed, and another company sold part of it for animal feed and the rest it pressed for use as fertilizer, while no oil-pressing machinery or storage tanks were found.
However, legislators still questioned the credibility of Ting Hsin — recently found to have used adulterated oil from Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co — and asked whether it used all its cottonseed to make fertilizer and sell as an animal feed ingredient.
“It sold more than 200 tonnes as an animal feed additive and about 700 tonnes were used as organic fertilizer,” Chen said, adding that their inspection on the import amount matched the company’s sales volume, with about 4 percent of the product said to be lost during manufacturing.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) presented a photograph of what he said was a cottonseed oil mill posted on Ting Hsin’s official Web site and downloaded on Sunday. He said the Web site’s descriptions included the words “imported cottonseed” and “pressed into cottonseed oil by mill.”
Lee said although Ting Hsin issued an apology to the public, he questioned the group’s sincerity and honesty.
“Is Ting Hsin really apologizing with honesty and sincerity? Can it be that it bought so many barrels of oil from Chang Chi without knowing?” he asked. “It only admitted to using the product after government inspections and after Chang Chi chairman Kao Cheng-li (高振利) said his company sold adulterated oil to Ting Hsin.”
He said that the company had added to its Web site yesterday: “All the imported cottonseed was made into cottonseed meal only and used for organic fertilizers (no oil pressing).”
Chen said the council’s inspectors had collected fertilizer samples on Tuesday for testing of the oils they contained, and the results would help them determine whether any oil had been pressed from the cottonseed and not used in the fertilizer.
Lee said if further investigations proved the company had pressed oil from the imported cottonseed, all the government officials involved should be responsible enough to step down from their posts.