Business / Industries

Taiwan oil maker fined heavily over tainted lard

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-09-11 09:59

TAIPEI - Taiwan has fined a cooking oil supplier NT$50 million ($1.67 million) over its sale of tainted lard, the public health watchdog said Wednesday.

Public health authority in Kaohsiung slapped the charge on Chang Guann Co, a well established cooking oil supplier headquartered in the city, with related evidence handed to the judicial authority.

Taiwan has been in the grip of fear and anger since the island's police busted a ring selling hundreds of tons of recycled cooking oil made from kitchen waste and grease from leather processing plants last week.

A man surnamed Kuo and five others allegedly ran illegal businesses to make the recycled waste oil at about a dozen operations in Kaohsiung and neighboring Pingtung.

Chang Guann produced 782 tons of lard from the oil, before selling it on to 235 food companies and restaurants including leading brands such as Wei Chuan Corp and 85'C Bakery Cafe.

Some 1,020 retail businesses were identified as having used the oil, the public health watchdog said.

Public health authorities across Taiwan had tracked down 730 tons of tainted lard by Wednesday afternoon, with 161 tons of oil inventories seized and 246 types of related food products removed from shelves.

Authorities also raised fines ranging from NT$30,000 to NT$3 million against the businesses owners who concealed their use of the tainted oil. The overall penalty fees are estimated to hit $24.5 million, according to the authorities.

Meanwhile, the island' s food and drug watchdog confirmed that Chang Guann imported 300 tons of lard from Hong Kong-based trading company Globalway Corp, which reportedly had purchased lard oil for industrial purpose.

The watchdog said it had requested its Hong Kong counterpart to look into Globalway's lard products, and the investigation is under way.

Consumers have rushed to refund products which may be contaminated over the past week. Century-old pastry shops across the island have seen people queuing to demand their money back. One renowned pastry store in Taipei has reportedly refunded over $10 million.

Chang Guann' s lard surprisingly met all the hygiene requirements, except for the test of heavy metals that is yet to be completed, according to Taiwan' s public health authority on Monday.

Sun Lih-chyun, spokesperson of Taiwan' s administrative authority said the products were illegal, despite the test results.

The authorities will be very severe on those who have broken food safety regulations, Sun assured the public.

Last October, olive oil in Taiwan was found to contain low quality substitutes and a banned coloring agent.

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