The China Post news staff
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Health officials continued working over the weekend to extend investigations into edible oil products on the market, while government agencies drafted new rules to better manage the production and sales of cooking oils. Officials at the Department of Health under the Taipei City Government said they have so far removed more than 180,000 oil products across 100 categories supplied by two producers from store shelves in the capital city. Inspections remained relentless yesterday, with the staff of a newly organized task force coordinating the operation. The inspectors have canvassed 2,582 retailers as well as 1,320 restaurants and food stalls at night markets. The examinations found that no restaurateurs or food vendors are now using cooking oils produced by the two manufacturers currently under investigation. Inspectors said their teams have removed a total of 177,644 products in 78 categories supplied by Tatung Changchi Foodstuff Factory Co. and 11,047 products in 25 categories manufactured by Flavor Full Foods Co. from store shelves in the city for using non-permitted additives and violating label regulations. They stressed that the store-by-store inspections will continue until consumers’ concerns regarding cooking oil safety are put to rest. Retailers or shops that continue selling products made by the two companies will face fines between NT$30,000 and NT$3 million, determined case-by-case.
Municipal officials confirmed that they attended an inter-agency coordination meeting convened by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) over the weekend for a concerted crackdown on unscrupulous oil producers. The city government will carry out resolutions reached at the meeting, including meting out fines and seizing illegal financial gains reaped by the crooked suppliers, they added. MOHW officials said the data gathered by their staff and prosecutors showed that Tatung Changchi had violated regulations by using the prohibited additive copper chlorophyll (銅葉綠素) in 34 categories of its oil products, making false claims concerning eight categories of products, and breaking label rules covering around 50 categories of products. Copper chlorophyll is a coloring additive banned from food products for possibly causing liver problems. The probe into Flavor Full Foods is still going on, but the latest data gathered by the Changhua County Government so far show that the company has violated label rules after failing to specify the use of cottonseed oil or additive generating peanut-like flavors concerning 25 categories of products. The officials said that oil products which contain illegal additives such as copper chlorophyll or are mixed with other oil products despite label claims will be destroyed in the near future. But they also said that they are considering a plan to allow oil manufacturers to use correct and reprinted labels for their other oil products that meet food sanitation standards, pending final approval by the health ministry. When drafting the new regulations, the officials said the MOHW will refer to the existing rules of the international Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) and mainland China with special considerations of the unique Chinese-style cooking formulas, including frying, stir frying, and deep frying, widely used by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
(Related story on page 15)