Taiwan's FDA reveals progress on tainted edible oil scandal

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a press conference yesterday to give updates on the latest progress of the tainted oil investigation, saying that another 73 products were found to contain lard products from Chang Guann Co.

With the new revelations that the oil material Chang Guann imported from Hong Kong contains animal feed-grade oil, the FDA demanded that Chang Guann pull all lard products from shelves and that local food companies as well as restaurants report their use of tainted oil within 24 hours. Besides Chuan Tung Fragrant Lard Oil, there are another 24 items that are to be pulled from the market.

The FDA said that after the scandal broke, not only have food companies and restaurants reported to local health departments on their use of problematic products, but also local governments have started new inspections on more of Chang Guann's products.

According to the FDA, a total of 78 companies - including 71 local companies, six Hong-Kong based companies and one Macao-based company - are listed on the procurement list provided by Chang Guann. As of 2 p.m. yesterday, inspectors from local health departments had finished inspections on 73 local companies and reported 73 items that contained Chang Guann's lard products.

Chiang Yu-mei, deputy director-general of the FDA, said that 34 companies reported immediately after the FDA made the announcement to recall all the problematic products. The reported rate is about 48 per cent, which shows that food manufacturers and restaurants are willing to cooperate to deal with the food safety problem.

In addition, Chiang also stated that the FDA has notified authorities in Hong Kong and Macao to deal with the problematic products that have been imported to their regions.

As for the first lard product that was found to contain gutter oil, the health departments are now cooperating with judicial departments to reinforce the inspections and track the remainder of the tainted oil. According to the FDA, 12 companies still deny their use of tainted oil despite the fact that they are listed on the procurement list of Chuan Tung Fragrant Lard Oil.

FDA Director-General Denies Resignation Rumours

FDA Director-General Yeh Ming-kung also spoke at the press conference yesterday, denying rumours that he is going to resign.

"The FDA has made many efforts to solve the problem and I don't have time to think about whether I am going to stay in the position or not," said Yeh.

Yeh continued by saying that the FDA did not try to cover up the scandal for the sake of big business. From the first day, the FDA deemed that Chang Guann's actions cannot be forgiven and must be severely punished.

He later said the whole scandal should be considered a level-two crisis, in which all problematic products should be destroyed. In addition, Yeh also said that the FDA stands on the side of consumers and will keep making efforts to protect consumers' safety.