TAIPEI - The Changhua District Prosecutors' Office on Thursday indicted Flavor Full Foods (富味鄉食品) Chairman Chen Wen-nan (陳文南) and five other company employees on charges of fraud and violations of the Act Governing Food Sanitation.
Prosecutor said that Chen, who doubles as the firm's manager, and technical director Chen Rui-li (陳瑞禮), research & development centre manager Lin Rui-tsung (林瑞聰), and supplies section chief Liu Chi-wei (劉騏瑋) had allegedly added low-cost sesame oil into the firm's three so-called 100-per cent pure sesame oil products since December 2009.
The Prosecutors' Office said that Flavor Full Foods had earned NT$300.5 million (S$12.7 million) for selling three impure products over the past four years, and noted that it has applied to the court to confiscate the illegal income.
Prosecutors did concede that initial proposals by Chen Wen-nan and Chen Rui-li to transfer a large sum into a fund designated for consumer refunds show that they are trying to atone for their mistakes.
This past Friday, the Changhua District Prosecutors' Office also indicted the head of Tatung Changchi Foodstuff Factory Co. (大統長基食品), Kao Cheng-li (高振利), on charges of fraud and violations of the Act Governing Food Sanitation.
Local media applauded the Changhua District Prosecutors' Office for starting and closing the investigation of Changchi within the span of 10 days. The Prosecutors' Office on Thursday broke its own record by closing the Flavor Full Foods case in eight days.
Seventeen products made by Changchi had obtained GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certificates, while Flavor Full Foods had won a Golden Merchants Award in 2010, but these two oil manufacturers were recently discovered to have diluted so-called pure oil products by adding low-cost ingredients.
The Changhua Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday issued a fine of NT$1.85 billion to Changchi over the tainted-oil controversy. DOH Commissioner Yeh Yen-po (葉彥伯) said the firm must pay the fine within one month, or the case will be referred to the courts to compel remission of the fine.
MOJ Reminds Feasibility of Class-action Lawsuit
During the Executive Yuan's weekly meeting, Minister of Justice Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) suggested that the Consumers Protection Committee remind consumers of the feasibility of a class-action lawsuit.
"Consumers who bought the aforementioned two firm's products" were entitled to bring a suit, the Cabinet's spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) further explained to local media after the weekly meeting.
Lo went on to say that prosecution of a class-action suit generally takes a considerable time and the outcome of a food-safety class-action suit might not meet consumers' expectations, as it is hard to prove a cause-effect relationship between consumers' health and consumption of a given food product.
In drawing an example, Lo pointed to a recent ruling in a tainted-plasticizer case in which over 500 victims affected by plasticizer-tainted additives were awarded NT$1.2 million in compensation.