Taiwan university to lead boycott of scandal-entangled food giant

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- National Taiwan University will lead a boycott against scandal-entangled food giant Ting Hsin International Group, NTU President Yang Pan-chyr announced yesterday.

The group was accused of selling questionably sourced oil intended for animal food.

The university's Office of General Affairs will order all internal divisions and units - including hospitals, experimental forests, highland farms - to stop selling Ting Hsin products, Yang told reporters.

"The world is going to laugh at us," Yang predicted as a result of the Changhua County District Court's not-guilty verdict last week of Wei Ying-chung, the former head of the food company. "They will think of Taiwan as a hub for food fraud. Nobody will buy products made in Taiwan anymore."

The ruling is expected to be appealed and the legal battle prolonged, according to district prosecutors on Sunday.

NTU urged all higher education institutions and schools nationwide to follow suit and join the boycott.

"We have to stand up and say 'no,'" said Yang. "It's our nation, our responsibility."

Fallen Consumer Confidence

The Ting Hsin International Group stated that it respects the university's decision.

The group said it has separate divisions operating in their respective sectors, so each management team bears responsibility for their division. At present, the firm accepts and respects the court's ruling on the Vietnamese oil case. It will "humbly" listen to the opinions of the public, the company said.

Wei Chuan Foods Corp, which used to be chaired by Wei, said the university had already stopped buying products from Wei Chuan in October 2015.

Wei Chuan stressed that the division took no part in the current oil scandal and stated that it hopes to regain consumer confidence in the future.

Wei and his three brothers founded the Ting Hsin International Group, which owns the Master Kong instant noodle brand, popular in Taiwan and mainland China.

This follows a string of tainted oil scandals in recent years, prompting public outrage and tighter food safety regulations. The head of another firm, Chang Guann Co, was given a 20-year sentence in July for his role in a "gutter oil" scandal.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a new mandate on Monday requiring food companies that had violated food safety laws to pay back their illegal gains.

The regulation will apply to registered companies with held assets of over NT$100 million (S$4.3 million). When the regulation will be put into effect is still uncertain.

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