Taiwan investigates firm selling waste oil as cooking oil

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Southern Taiwan Investigation Center of the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) busted an illegal oil supplier yesterday, saying that the main suspect, surnamed Kuo, recycled cooking oil and sold it to oil manufacturers as a fresh product. This resulted in at least 200 tons of waste oil entering the food market.

According to investigators, 200 tons of polluted oil may have already been sold to Chung Guann Co. Ltd, a well-known local cooking oil manufacturer.

The company denied buying waste oil intentionally, saying that it knew nothing about the poor quality of the oil it bought. However, the company said that it did buy 200 tons of oil from another supplier owned by Kuo. Chung Guann further stated that from this purchase the company produced 51,000 barrels of lard oil. Currently, there are only 3,000 barrels left in their inventory. The company has started to retrieve the other 48,000 barrels of oil from its customers.

In addition, the company said it followed the investigators' order to start a probe into the matter on Sept 1. Not until Sept 2 was it aware that Kuo had sold waste oil. The company has already started to reverse the damage with its customers.

Rather than selling these products to clients directly, Chung Guann sold its products to other distributors that supply restaurants and shops. Therefore, the company has to track the waste oil through its distributors.

The president of Chung Guann also apologised to the public yesterday. He emphasised that the company did not intentionally buy waste oil, and the price that Kuo offered was not cheaper than other oil suppliers. However, he regrets that the company caused a food security problem due to its carelessness.

It was discovered yesterday that one of the biggest food manufacturers, Wei Chuan Corp, has used the polluted oil. The company actively reported that 12 of Wei Chuan's products may have used oil from Chung Guann and will be removed from the market soon.

782 Tons of Oil Need to Be Retrieved: FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also pointed out that Chung Guann's fragrant lard oil produced between March 1 and Aug 29 had been mixed with waste oil and the company should recall these products.

Regarding this issue, the FDA held a press conference in the afternoon yesterday, saying that the waste oil had been mixed with lard in a one-to-three ratio, which produced a total of 782 tons of CG fragrant lard oil sold on the market.

The FDA demands the company recall the contaminated oil before March 2015.

The head of the FDA Northern Center, Feng Ruen-lan stated that the FDA's Southern Center has already teamed up with the Kaohsiung City Government Department of Health to trace all the products. She also pointed out that prosecutors will investigate whether Chung Guann knew its products were contaminated. If the company knew that it was buying waste oil and still decided to use the oil, the company may not only face fines but also criminal charges.

Feng also reminded food manufacturers to keep an eye on their products to prevent a similar situation or face fines of NT$60,000 (S$2516.50) to NT$50 million.