The Taiwan High Court yesterday sentenced the owner of a food additive manufacturing company to a jail term of 13 years for adding toxic plasticizers to clouding agents and selling them to food and beverage producers.
The court handed down the sentence to Chen Che-hsiung (陳哲雄) of New Taipei City (新北市)-based Pin Han Perfumery Co for fraud and violation of the Food Sanitation Act (食品衛生管理法). It also sentenced Chen’s wife, Wang Fen (王粉), to an 11-year jail term on the same charges.
Both the defendants were in court for the rulings, where Chen’s lawyer asked the court to suspend the jail term and grant bail, as Chen is suffering from cancer.
Pin Han was found liable for adding toxic plasticizers to clouding agents between August 2005 and May last year to cut costs.
The firm is also alleged to have sold the additive to seven local food and soft drink manufacturers, including Uni-President Enterprise Corp, until the industrial-use plasticizers were detected in a wide range of processed food products and beverages in late April last year as the largest food contamination scandal in the nation’s history was exposed.
Clouding agent is commonly used in fruit jelly, yogurt powder mix, juices, sports drinks and other beverages to keep emulsions well dispersed.
Prosecutors indicted Chen and his wife in June last year, as well as Chen’s eldest son, Chen Wei-cheng (陳威丞), who was accused of assisting in the production of the substandard clouding agents, and their youngest son, Chen Wei-chuan (陳威銓), the company’s nominal head.
The two sons were found not guilty due to a lack of evidence, but Pin Han was handed a fine of NT$2.5 million (US$86,000) for violating the Food Sanitation Act.
The high court maintained the ruling, but doubled the fine on Pin Han.
The ruling can still be appealed.
The discovery of plasticizers last year in many processed foods forced the recall of hundreds of products, bludgeoning the confidence of Taiwanese consumers and tarnishing the country’s reputation abroad.
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