The China Post news staff
TAIPEI, Taiwan — A campaign to boycott Ting Hsin (頂新集團)food products picked up momentum yesterday as food conglomerate tycoon Wei Ying-chung (魏應充) made his first public appearance since the latest tainted oil scandal erupted to apologize to the nation.
Meanwhile, prosecutors raided a Ting Hsin manufacturing plant in Pingtung and seized 685 tons of oil following fresh revelations that the company imported animal feed-use oil from Vietnam. Wei, who has resigned as chairman of three Ting Hsin Group cooking oil companies implicated in the scandal, claimed during a press conference in Taipei that he felt sorry for making Taiwan consumers worry about food safety.
At one point he burst into tears, claiming he would assume full responsibility.
Wei, who founded the conglomerate together with his brothers, said Ting Hsin is considering withdrawing from the Taiwan cooking oil market if it cannot make sure its products are entirely safe. The food conglomerate has decided to suspend operations at Cheng-I Food Co. and Ting Hsin Oil & Fat Industrial Co., two of the three problematic oil companies implicated in the scandal.
Ting Hsin has come under tremendous pressure since the scandal erupted, with general consumers and schools mounting campaigns to boycott not just its oils but all other food products made by the group. Taipei, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung and seven other cities and counties have instructed all schools under their jurisdiction to stop using and selling Ting Hsin products. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said any food company that harms consumers’ health to make undue profits must be heavily punished until it collapses.
Taichung Mayor Jason Hu said all institutions under the city government’s control have removed all Ting Hsin products from their premises, and the city government is looking for ways to improve food safety. Commissioner Wu Chi-yang of Taoyuan County, which has joined the Ting Hsin boycott campaign, said he supports consumers’ call for boycotting unscrupulous companies. In Yilan County, the commissioner of which made the nation’s very first call for a boycott of Ting Hsin’s products, some retailers have shown open support for the campaign.