Class action suit seeks $1.3 million in Taiwan food scandals

File photo of various foods the Consumers' Foundation has investigated in the past

TAIPEI - The Consumers' Foundation (CF, 中華民國消費者文教基金) announced yesterday that it has tallied 761 cases as part of a class action suit against four companies involved in a series of recent food scandals.

The CF will represent consumers against Ting Hsin International Group (頂新國際集團), Cheng-I Food Co., Ltd. (正義股份有限公司), Chang Guann Co. (強冠企業) and Beei Hae Edible Co. (北海油脂公司). The total settlement sought is estimated to total NT$30 million dollars (S$1.3 million).

Food scandals in Taiwan have become commonplace, with the most recent being the sale of toxic starch and tainted cooking oil which has strained the institutional manpower capabilities of the Executive Yuan's Consumer Protection Committee (行政院消費者保護會).

The Committee has subsequently sought the assistance of the CF to seek legal action on behalf of the affected consumers.

According to the CF, it has received 761 cases since it opened the application process in December of 2014. 230 plaintiffs filed against Chang Guann Co., with 250 plaintiffs each against Ting Hsin International Group and Cheng-I Food, Ltd.

20 cases were lodged against Beei Haie Edible Co. However, over 40 per cent of the cases require additional supplementary documentation to be included by the filing parties.

Currently, the lawsuit against Chang Guann Co. and Cheng-I Food Co., Ltd. amounts to NT$12 million dollars, while damages sought against Ting Hsin International Group and Beei Haie Edible Co. amount to NT$8 million and NT$7 million respectively.

After accounting for punitive and psychological damages, the total settlement will reach an estimated NT$30 million dollars.

The Foundation reminds consumers taking part in the suit to forward any related documents and supplementary material to it as soon as possible.

If consumers are unable to obtain original sales receipts indicating the purchase of the tainted products, they are advised to put forward a request to the shops in which they purchased the items for a purchase record.

In another class action suit in 2011, the Foundation sought NT$2.4 billion dollars in compensation on behalf of consumers involving plasticizer contaminant. The final verdict awarded NT$1.2 million to the plaintiffs.