TAIPEI, Taiwan - After prosecutors revealed that two food companies sold fake lamb products made by mixing pork with lamb oil, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and local health departments yesterday began tracking 117 retailers that purchased the products.
The FDA also announced that all implicated products must be pulled from shelves.
The procedure violates the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation and is punishable with a fine of between NT$60,000 (S$2,500) and NT$50 million.
If prosecutors deem the selling of adulterated meat to be a criminal act according to the Criminal Code of the Republic of China, the offences are punishable by up to five years in prison and NT$8 million in fines, according to the FDA.
FDA official Feng Ruenn-lan said the FDA carried out investigations as soon as it received a report from the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office stating that a meat merchant in New Taipei City may be involved in the case.
After investigations, authorities found that the company "customised" its meat products by mixing mutton with pork to cut costs.
Chiang Yu-mei, acting director-general of the FDA, stressed that meat products are routinely inspected by local health departments.
With DNA-based multi-detection tests, authorities can identify specific kinds of meat and confirm whether products are mislabeled.
Violations involving the mixing of pork with beef and lamb to process beef jerky products and beef patties are those most commonly found in regular meat inspections, according to statistics from health departments.
Prosecutors Search Companies
Prosecutors recently searched food companies owned by two suspects, surnamed Ho and Huang, and found 12,000 kilograms of processed meat as well as procurement documents.
According to prosecutors, Ho classified meat products into three different categories. The A and B levels were processed meat made with chopped pork and beef while the C level was made with pork mixed with lamb oil.
Ho also put a water-retaining agent into frozen meat to increase the weight of products, said prosecutors.
Although Ho and Huang claim to have sold these products for only a year, prosecutors believe that they have been selling adulterated meat for at least three or four years according to the companies' procurement documents.
Most products from the two companies have been sold to night markets and hot-pot chain stores.