Public furor over Wowprime oil scandal

Public furor over Wowprime oil scandal

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Wowprime Corp., a Taiwan-based restaurant chain, denied admonishments by the public yesterday over the firm's failure to take prompt action after its products were found to contain animal feed oil.

After news of Cheng-I Food Co.'s involvement in the latest oil scare, the Taichung City Government Health Bureau went to Wowprime's head office to investigate on Wednesday. Wowprime delayed disclosure of related information to the Health Bureau until 2 p.m. yesterday, in stark contrast to celebrity chef Master Ah-Chi, who promptly issued a public apology after the waste oil and mixed oil scandal broke. As of press time, the top management of Wowprime were avoiding public scrutiny, refusing to hold a press conference to address the issue.

The recent food scare involves Cheng-I, a subsidiary of Ting Hsin Group, which allegedly bought animal feed products from Hsin Hao Company and sold cooking oil products mixed with the feed oil.

Wowprime spokesman Chu Shu-ting said that Wowprime did not purposefully withhold information from the public, adding that the firm's internal investigation process is being hindered by the sheer number of the corporation's many restaurant chains. According to Chu, Wowprime Chairman Steve Day ordered all subsidiary restaurants to inspect their oil products and report back immediately.

Taichung City Deputy Mayor Tsai Bing-kun stressed that since Wowprime delayed one day before reporting its use of Cheng-I lard oil in four of its dishes, "Wowprime will face severe punishment if one more Wowprime restaurant is found to have been using Cheng-I's products in their dishes."

According to the Taichung Health Bureau, Wowprime used 87 16-kilogram barrels of Cheng-I Fragrant Lard Oil from March to mid-September. The following dishes from four Wowprime restaurant chains were found to have been tainted and removed from shelves: salmon & salmon roe over rice from Ikki Japanese Cuisine, creamed corn soup from Wang Steak, roasted steak from TASTy restaurant and chuck roasted with onion from Tokiya.

Wowprime announced that all restaurants affiliated with the corporation switched to using Cheng-I's tainted lard oil after Chang Guann Co.'s waste oil scandal broke in September.

Eighty-six Food Providers Heeding the FDA's Demand

Eighty-six food providers informed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday that they had been using Cheng-I's questionable oil products, after the FDA's appeal on Thursday.

Chiang Yu-mei, who is temporally standing in for the director-general of the FDA, explained why the government refused to publicize the list of the food providers that reported to the FDA. Chiang said that the government chose not to disclose the list because the retailers, night market vendors and supermarkets in question have reported to the local health bureau on their own initiative.

The FDA announced that 37 Cheng-I lard oil products contain animal feed oil from Hsin Hao, out of the 68 problematic oil products. As many as 230 retailers and restaurants had been using the tainted oil products. More than 20,000 kilograms of shady oil products have been removed from shelves.

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