Media partly to blame for ‘Turkish strawberry’ fraud: CF

By Wendy Tseng Special to The China Post

The Consumers’ Foundation proposed that the media should be partly held responsible for misleading the public about the benefits of a bogus diet pill. The organization added that newspapers, television stations, magazines and spokespersons who continue to promote Turkish strawberries should compensate consumers if medical problems arise. “The media has to take responsibility. It cannot escape,” said Consumers’ Foundation in a statement to the press. The Consumers’ Foundation also urged the government to create regulations that punish organizations that knowingly broadcast misleading information. Taichung’s Department of Health banned television channels from showing ads for the diet pill on July 23. However, several cable television stations are still airing the commercials. The Consumers’ Foundation also suggested that media representatives for companies who commit fraud should also pay for damages. The company that sold Turkish strawberries had recruited two celebrities, including 50-year-old singer Chen Ying-jie, to promote its product.

The Consumers’ Foundation added that the government should help consumers return the Turkish strawberries. The issue about the diet pill arose when buyers complained that the company would not refund the product after seven days. This violates Article 92 of the Civil Code, which states companies which are found guilty of fraud must reimburse consumers even though the package has been opened. The Consumers’ Foundation added that Taiwan’s Department of Health should be more active in enforcing the Consumers Protection Law. The regulation states that the government needs to randomly inspect selected-drugs and then ban them if they are harmful. “It is ridiculous that people can still buy the Turkish strawberries,” said Hsieh Tien-jen, deputy secretary-general of the foundation. Taichung’s Department of Health fined the manufacturer of the Turkish strawberries NT$300,000 on July 23. The Turkish strawberries are pills made of strawberry yeast from Turkey.

The manufacturer claims that the strawberry’s enzyme dissolves the body’s fat and prevents fat accumulation. Consumers can lose four to six kilograms of body weight if they take the pill twice a day for a month, claimed a company spokesperson surnamed Hung in an interview with the Consumers’ Foundation. “The Turkish strawberry can release acid and toxic waste from the body, help one lose weight and narrow the body’s lower torso…we guarantee that you will not gain back the weight,” Hung claimed. However, Taichung’s health officials announced in July that the diet pill is an ordinary food product. It does not help one lose weight. The Turkish strawberries are sold in packages for a six-month consumption. Each package costs a whopping NT$51,000.