TAIPEI - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said it has already started to examine 12 oil samples from Ting Hsin International Group that are suspected to contain Agent Orange, a herbicidal weapon that the US military used during the Vietnam War; the results will come out in two weeks.
According to a local media report, prosecutors decided to proceed with a second sampling test on Ting Hsin's products on Oct. 23, since a Taiwanese businessman told authorities that the oil Ting Hsin imported from Vietnam may contain traces of Agent Orange.
Although prosecutors at first refused to confirm anything in the report due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, the FDA later admitted that it has received a total of 12 samples from the Changhua District Prosecutors Office.
According to Chiang Yu-mei, acting director-general of the FDA, prosecutors sent seven samples of unrefined lard and tallow products from Ting Hsin Oil & Fat Industrial Co.'s Pingtung factory on Oct. 24, as well as five samples of coconut oil and Australian tallow products from Ting Hsin.
She continued by saying that the FDA has already sent each of the samples to a laboratory to analyse for dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzo-para-dioxins (PCDDs), the toxic substances mixed in Agent Orange. It will take 14 days for the results to come out.
Chiang also stressed that they have been carrying out tests on dioxin levels on many samples sent to the FDA during the oil scandal. So far, the FDA has not received any abnormal reports from the lab.
Toxicologists Express Concern
Regarding the issue, Chiang Chih-kang, secretary-general of the Toxicology Society of Taiwan, stated that these herbicides are known to be a kind of carcinogen. In addition, these substances will remain in the environment for a long time and can end up in the food chain.
Yen Tsung-hai, a toxicologist at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, also stated that these substances are fat-soluble. Therefore, the toxins will remain in animal fat if these animals are exposed to a polluted environment or consume anything that was polluted by dioxins. It is possible that the oil imported from Vietnam was produced from polluted animals' organs, according to Yen.
Yen suggested that the government run more sampling tests on all the food products imported from Vietnam. In addition, if people are concerned about consuming any potentially polluted food products, they can drink more water and have more fruits to activate their metabolism, added Yen.