FDA determines tainted oil a health hazard

PHOTO: FDA determines tainted oil a health hazard

CHINA - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday announced the test results of Chung Guann Co., Ltd.'s (強冠公司) lard products, including three samples of recycled oil from the material supplier, the main materials of Chung Guann and recalled lard products. The results show that the recycled materials contain hazardous quantities of acid and carcinogens, while the final product actually meets all health and safety standards.

The FDA stated that although the final products passed tests, it is still unacceptable to use recycled oil as a main material in the production of new products. Therefore, all the related products should still be pulled from shelves.

According to the FDA, the examination included testing for hazardous elements that usually appear in oil that has been repeatedly used, such as acid levels, benzopyrene as well as heavy mental elements like lead, mercury and cadmium. It also tested the samples to see whether they contain aflatoxin, a kind of toxic metabolite that may lead to cancer.

In addition, the FDA also examined the oil for animal components to see if other elements had been mixed into the samples.

The results show that acid levels in the supplier's recycled oil and Chung Guann's main materials are at levels higher than allowed by safety limits, which indicates that this oil had already reached hydrolytic rancidity and cannot be used in cooking. Benzopyrene, a kind of carcinogen discovered in the samples, was also at levels three times higher than the normal level approved by Taiwan and the European Union, showing that the oil had been repeatedly used.

Other tests did not find other disqualified items such as heavy metals.

"Based on the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation, oil that has been repeatedly used cannot be recycled as material to produce new products and enter the market. Therefore, although the oil passed the examination, the related products should still be recall and destroyed," said Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美), deputy director-general of the FDA.

Chen Hui-fang (陳惠芳), from the Division of Research and Analysis at the FDA, stated that acid levels represent the freshness of oil. The excessive levels of acid mean that the oil had already been spoiled. She also pointed out that the result of this examination shows we cannot only rely on scientific testing as a means of supervising food safety issues.

FDA Considers Further Tests

The FDA emphasised that if the initial materials violate the law, the final products cannot enter the market. Although the lard samples from Chung Guann meet health and safety standards, the FDA will still consider checking other Chung Guann products.

Further checks are being considered because Chung Guann is one of the biggest food manufacturers providing materials to many local food companies, and so highly related to the health of citizens. To guarantee people's rights, the FDA may carry out inspections on other Chung Guann products in the future to see whether other products violate the law.