Ministry of Health censured over last year’s oil scandal

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Nov 07, 2015 - Page 5

The Control Yuan on Thursday censured the Ministry of Health and Welfare for its poor management of food scares last year that involved edible oil products.

Control Yuan member Bau Tzong-ho (包宗和) said the public had expressed concerns about food safety issues and that the Control Yuan should identify those responsible for the import of lard and beef tallow which was intended for animal feed and not fit for human consumption, by local food company Ting Hsin Oil and Fat Industrial Co (頂新製油實業) from Vietnam-based Dai Hanh Phuc Co.

When the oil scandal came to light in October last year, the Ministry of Health and Welfare failed to order all problematic oil products off shelves immediately as a precautionary measure, although it received official documentation from Vietnam proving that the safety of the products was questionable, the Control Yuan said.

The ministry instead carried out its own tests to find out whether oil intended for animal feed was used in edible oil products — which Control Yuan members said were unnecessary — and ordered all questionable products to be recalled 18 days after the advice from Vietnam.

The Control Yuan also criticized the ministry for its lax customs inspection practices and inability to verify the authenticity of the oil import certificates.

The ministry was accused of having double standards when dealing with questionable food products.

The ministry recalled Ting Hsin products 18 days after suspicions were raised over the safety of edible oil products, but local food manufacturer Namchow Group’s (南僑集團) products were ordered to be pulled from shelves within two days of the scandal, Bau said.

Namchow products were later found to have met safety standards, he added.

Bau and two other Control Yuan members said that Ministry of Health Vice Minister Hsu Ming-neng (許銘能) should be “the one to shoulder the main responsibility” for the scandal.