Slaughterhouse owner questioned over water-injected beef scandal

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Council of Agriculture (COA) and the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office yesterday summoned a slaughterhouse owner for questioning regarding accusations concerning the practice of injecting water into cattle carcasses.

According to the COA, if the slaughterhouse owners' actions endanger the safety of meat products, officials will request the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) to hand out punishments according to regulations.

The second largest slaughterhouse in the nation, Fo Bo Slaughterhouse, was reportedly pumping water into cattle carcasses in order to receive higher profits from selling water-injected meat.

According to local reports, water-injected meats bring in nearly NT$40 million (S$1.67 million) profits on average annually for Fo Bo Slaughterhouse after Shang Hao Meat Shun Fa wholesalers sells the product to vendors and restaurants in the Greater Taipei, Keelung and Taoyuan areas.

Chang Wen-shou, the owner of the Fo Bo Slaughterhouse, reported to the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office after being summoned for questioning. When reporters asked him about the water-injected beef scandal, he repeatedly denied his company's use of the practice. After over an hour of questioning, prosecutors allowed Chang to leave in order to further investigate this case, but he is still listed as a suspect.

The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) under the COA said that there are 14 slaughterhouses that are in operation currently in Taiwan, and officials will enforce monitoring and supervising on these slaughter houses.

Based on the Animal Industry Act, the BAPHIQ said, slaughterhouses found in violation of regulations concerning slaughter operations will be subject to a fine of more than NT$30,000 but less than NT$150,000.

Vendor Demanded to Provide Meat Source

Taipei City Market Administration Office yesterday said that all vendors under the office will be requested to provide certificates and source of all the local beef.

According to the Taipei City Market Administration Office, about 100 vendors under the supervision of the office sell or use local beef.

The Taipei City Market Administration Office said that all vendors and restaurants that belong to the office are now required to post certificates that state the source of their beef in order to protect the rights of consumers.

Meanwhile, New Taipei City Public Health Department Commissioner Lin Sheue-rong said that after inspections, no water-injected beef was used as the ingredients of school lunch in the city.

Taipei City Public Health Department said that officials were immediately dispatched to inspect the products from meat vendors in traditional markets, supermarkets and any other related locations.

According to the department, 10 beef samples were brought back for further inspections regarding the water content of the meat.