Oils may have been tainted before import, FDA says

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Nov 16, 2013 - Page 3

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday published the latest list of adulterated and tainted oils, and said it suspects that in some cases copper chlorophyllin had been added to the oils before they were imported into Taiwan.

As of yesterday, a total of 49 self-claimed pure oil products, including 15 that were found to contain copper chlorophyllin, had been tested and confirmed by the FDA to have either been adulterated or had an illicit substance added.

Besides Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co, Formosan Oilseed Processing Co and Ting Hsin that were exposed early in the scandal, Taisun Enterprise Co and Fwusow Industry are also two of the listed copper chlorophyllin users.

The two companies have been importing adulterated olive oil from Spain and were named in a report issued by the Spanish government to local authorities. Both companies have since rebuffed the accusations of adulteration.

The Spanish Chamber of Commerce released a statement on Wednesday saying that the report was “an internal study written in Spanish by a trainee in 2009” and was to “analyze possible cases of misleading labeling practices on olive oil products in Taiwan.”

Meanwhile, grape-seed oil products of the two companies were found to contain a food colorant. Both Taisun and Fwusow have since emphasized that the grape-seed oil products tested positive for the illicit substance were imported from Spain and were not additionally processed.

The FDA also confirmed that many of the two companies’ problematic imported products were either in their original packaging or directly packaged into bottles from the imported barrels, a fact that led the agency to suspect that the oils were tainted before entering the country.

FDA Northern Center for Regional Administration Director Feng Jun-lan (馮潤蘭) said grape-seed oil imported from Spain and olive oil imported from Italy are now being investigated, and the agency has requested assistance from Taiwan’s overseas offices and the two countries’ offices in Taiwan to procure further information on the matter.

Feng added that the inspections had been carried out at ports.

The FDA was reluctant yesterday to make public all the importers of tainted oil from Spain and Italy, and their downstream companies, saying the information would not be revealed until a thorough investigation into the imported oil had been completed.