Taiwan's Ministry of Health facing probe over tainted oil tests

Taiwan's Ministry of Health facing probe over tainted oil tests

TAIWAN - The Taipei District Prosecutors Office yesterday said it will assign prosecutors to investigate the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) over a controversy regarding products containing contaminated cottonseed oil.

Local media reported that in 2012, the MHW already knew that examination results of products made by Tatung Changchi Foodstuff Co. showed abnormal levels of additives, but failed to follow up in its investigation.

In light of media reports, the prosecutors office yesterday indicated that it will look into the case and see if any MHW officials unlawfully neglected their professional duties.

The Taipei Department of Health said it has received a citizen's report on Changchi's oil products, and noted that it has tested the products and transferred the case to the Changhua County Health Department for further investigations.

MHW Raises Concerns About 36 Oil Products

The MHW yesterday said that it has inspected 50 domestic cooking oil manufacturers and has raised concerns over the production of, and additives in, 36 oil products.

The MHW said that of the 36 products inspected, all are claimed by manufacturers to contain 100-per cent pure olive oil. The ministry also indicated that samples of the products have been sent for more extensive testing, with results to come out within one week.

Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta said the MHW will inspect 163 cooking oil manufacturers across Taiwan.

Tatung Changchi was exposed by the Changhua District Prosecutors Office last week for putting illegal additives - primarily cottonseed oil - into its cooking-oil products.

Domestic biotechnology experts pointed out that cottonseed oil contains the compound gossypol, a natural phenol, which may cause damage to the human body's reproductive system when ingested.

MHW Deputy Minister Hsu Ming-neng said that the MHW on Monday examined oil products from Changchi and Flavor Full Foods to see if the products were free of gossypol. Hsu added that examination results will be received in one week.

Of the 7,619 tons of coarse cottonseed oil imported into Taiwan between October 2012 and 2013, 40 per cent went to Tatung Changchi, while the remaining 60 per cent went to Flavor Full Foods, according to the MHW.

The Changhua District Prosecutors Office on Monday questioned a Taipei-based trading company which had purportedly helped Changchi to import cottonseed oil from Australia over the past two years.

The prosecutors office said given that Changchi has been using cottonseed oil for many years, the testimonies of the trading firm and Changchi are inconsistent.

Changchi Chairman Kao Cheng-li and his son travelled to mainland China frequently, the prosecutors office said, noting that it suspects the reason they are frequent travelers to China is not as simple as it may seem.

Lawmaker Casts Doubt over Great Day

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Wei-cher said that according to a study done by Meiho University in 2012, two grapeseed-oil products under the Great Day brand featured false ingredient labels.

Standard Foods Corporation, which produces the Great Day line of oils, yesterday released a statement denying the allegations. It said that the quality and contents of its products are "completely" consistent with indications on its labels.

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