Polluted cooking oil in famous Taiwanese stores

Polluted cooking oil in famous Taiwanese stores
Barrels of tainted oil.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published a list of 235 companies that bought polluted cooking oil products from Chung Guann Co., Ltd. (強冠公司), based on records the company provided yesterday morning. Some well-known traditional snack shops and restaurants are listed.

After the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) busted an illegal oil supplier who was selling recycled cooking oil on Sept. 4, the FDA cooperated with 22 local health departments to track the polluted oil.

With the information provided by Chung Guann, local health departments are inspecting the polluted oil to better understand the purchase details. In addition, they will also probe the usages of the oil, hoping to protect consumers' rights and deal with the food security issue.

According to the FDA, apart from Wei Chuan Foods Corporation (味全食品), which admitted using polluted oil and pulled 12 products from shelves on Sept. 4, there are still hundreds of stores affected by case, including popular chain store 85oC, chain restaurant Wu Hua Ma (五花馬) and famous food manufacturer Hawdii Foods Co. (好帝一食品有限公司).

FDA Director-General Yeh Ming-kung (葉明功) stated that it is unforgivable that food manufacturers did not make thorough checks and caused serious food safety issues that damage the health of citizens. Yeh also said he thinks that Chung Guann intentionally bought cheaper oil in order to reduce costs.

In addition, Wei Chuan Foods Corporation (味全食品) was also involved in the oil product false labeling case last year. Yeh said that although Wei Chuan actively reported that it used polluted oil in its products, authorities will still carry out inspections on the company to see whether or not it is telling the truth.

"As one of the biggest food companies in Taiwan, Wei Chuan has made similar mistakes for the second time in a short period. Therefore, the FDA suggests that the Taipei City Government punish the company strictly," said Yeh.

The FDA also deemed that oil manufacturers try to reduce costs by mixing lard with other oil to produce lard products since the price of lard has increased in recent times.

Famous Food Stores Also Affected

From the morning, local governments also sent staff to trace polluted oil used by restaurants, night markets and food manufactures. Many stores also recalled, sealed or destroyed products yesterday.

Famous traditional snack shop Li Gu (李鵠餅店) and Yu Jen Jai (玉珍齋) were also reported to have bought polluted oil, based on information from the FDA. Yu Jen Jai denied that it used the oil in its moon cakes, while Li Gu recalled its products and destroyed them yesterday afternoon. Li Gu's owner also apologised to the public.

Chain store 85oC stated that it only uses the oil in sauteing the spring onion that it puts on certain kinds of bread. The store has already pulled all related products from its shelves. According to 85oC, the oil it bought from Chung Guann was not cheaper than other brands and the examination report it was given by Chung Guann did not show any problems.

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