Vendors, wholesalers ‘helpless’ amid food safety scare

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Nov 09, 2013 - Page 3

Vendors and wholesalers have been helpless and forgotten amid the snowballing controversies over tainted edible oil products and public concerns over food safety due to the government’s inaction, business owners told a press conference organized by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday.

“Thousands of vendors and wholesalers across the country have been on the ‘front line’ dealing with returned merchandise and refunds to consumers since the tainted oil controversy broke out, but we don’t know if we can get our money back from the upstream manufacturers,” store owner Chen Nian-tien (陳年添) told reporters.

The manufacturers Chen referred to were Formosa Oilseed Processing Co (福懋油脂), Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團), Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co (大統長基) and Flavor Full Food Inc (富味鄉), whose products were found to have been adulterated.

While the Department of Health and Welfare and consumer ombudsmen have been scrambling to secure compensation for consumers of the oil products, nothing has been done to protect vendors and wholesalers, said Chen, who had made an advance payment of more than NT$200,000 (US$6,786) to consumers.

“The Executive Yuan has asked the Changhua County Government to negotiate with Chang Chi about reimbursements to vendors and wholesalers. However, whether the payments will be in place will depend on the company,” Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Hsu Ming-neng (許銘能) said.

Wu Cheng-hsueh (吳政學), deputy director-general of the Executive Yuan’s Department of Consumer Protection, said the department had secured at least NT$258 million from the manufacturers for the purpose of compensation, but the law does not protect wholesalers.

TSU Legislator Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) said the central government was shirking its responsibility, saying that if the current legislation is flawed, the government should immediately propose amending the law.