TAIPEI, Taiwan - All products manufactured by the four major food companies Wei Chuan Foods Corp. (味全食品), Flavor Full Foods (富味鄉食品公司), Tatung Changchi Foodstuff Factory Co. (大統長基食品), and Formosa Oilseed Processing Co., Ltd. (FOPCO, 福懋油脂) will be immediately recalled from all retailers in Hualien, County Magistrate Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) said yesterday.
Fu said that this is the ultimate way to prevent businessmen without consciences from continuing to violate regulations regarding the production of food products.
"If the government only takes one product off of shelves after a failed inspection, it will give food manufacturers the idea that they might be able to get away (with their behaviour) without being caught," said Fu.
"Instead of demanding that all retailers recall products manufactured by the four major companies, Hualien County decided to encourage retailers to cooperate with the government's actions so that other food manufacturers can understand the consequences of selling foods that do not meet regulations," said Fu.
According to the Health Bureau of Hualien County, the biggest difference between initiatives taken by other local governments and the Hualien County government in maintaining food safety was that other local governments only took products that failed inspections off store shelves. However, Hualien County chose to actively recall all products from the four major food manufacturers involved in the recent mislabeled cooking oil scandal.
"There have been a series of food safety issues, including plasticizer, tainted starch, and the recent mislabeling and use of the prohibited additive copper chlorophyll complex in cooking oil," said Fu. "Therefore, local governments can only solve this problem by forcing food manufacturers that did not follow regulations to shoulder the burden of compensation."
"If those food manufacturers are willing to take full responsibility for compensating everybody who fell victim to the recent mislabeling and use of prohibited additives in cooking oils, and if the central government confirms that all products produced by those companies meet regulations, then Hualien County might reconsider the possibility of putting those companies' products back on the shelves," said Fu.
The Industrial Development Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs said that it is the right of local governments to decide if they want to take a certain product off shelves, a decision which has nothing to do with GMP certification.
Response from Food Companies and Retailers
Wei Chuan yesterday said that the company has not received official notification from the Hualien County government, but it will actively inform the government regarding its legal rights to sell products that meet inspections.
GMP certifications won by Formosa Oilseed were revoked after some of its products were discovered to have been mislabeled, and it was forbidden from selling cooking oil products to government offices and schools.
A. Mart, one of the major retailers in Taiwan, said that the company will not recall products that do not fail inspections.
Carrefour also said that because of contracts signed with its suppliers, taking qualified products off shelves might violate its merchandising agreements.
Pxmart Co., Ltd., said that it received notification from the Hualien County government last Wednesday and subsequently removed all flagged products from store shelves, but also issued appeals for a uniform standard for handling food safety issues throughout the nation, an initiative that should be undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.