Taiwanese noodle firm to pay $127 million over food scandal

Taiwanese noodle firm to pay $127 million over food scandal

TAIPEI - The owner of Taiwanese instant noodle brand Master Kong said Thursday it would pay out Tw$3 billion (S$127.18 million) over the latest in a string of food safety scandals that have triggered public outrage.

Ting Hsin International Group made the pledge after consumers started boycotting products made by its unit Wei Chuan Foods Corp, which was implicated in a food safety case that surfaced last week involving tainted lard and cooking oil.

The money would go to the government or approved foundations "to help enhance Taiwan's food industry", chairman Wei Yin-chiao told a press conference.

Wei, who bowed deeply before television cameras to apologise, added that the group would withdraw from Taiwan's cooking oil market.

Wei's brother Wei Yin-chun last week stepped down as chairman of Wei Chuan and two other units implicated in the latest scandal, after Taiwanese authorities ordered more than 60 types of lard, cooking oil and margarine removed from sale for containing oil intended for animal feed.

As of Thursday, more than 386 tonnes of products adulterated with feed oil had been pulled from shelves, according to health officials.

Wei Chuan, implicated in three separate food safety cases in less than a year, has sparked public anger in Taiwan with a growing number of retailers, civil groups and even government agencies boycotting its products.

Last month, Wei Chuan was among the hundreds of companies that removed products from sale in a damaging "gutter oil" scandal, which brought down Taiwan's health minister.

Wei Chuan also recalled tens of thousands of bottles of cooking oil adulterated with a banned colouring agent in late 2013.

Prosecutors on Thursday raided Wei Chuan's headquarters in Taipei, after three businessmen, including a Ting Hsin official, were detained on Sunday for allegedly violating food safety laws and committing fraud and forgery.

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