Wowprime sorry for oil 'misunderstanding'

TAIPEI - Wowprime Corporation held a press conference yesterday afternoon to apologise for a "misunderstanding" with the Taichung City Government's Health Bureau regarding its use of lard oil, as well as over its brand Famonn Coffee's use of tainted oil in its tomato vegetable soup.

According to media reports, during the Health Bureau's inspection on Sept. 11, Wowprime told an official that they did not use any lard oil in their products. However, UDN reported that three local brands of lard oil were used. Wowprime's spokeswoman Yang Hsiu-hui said that all 298 restaurants of Wowprime have stopped using lard oil. Furthermore, Yang said that customers may get full refunds from Famonn Coffee.

The Central News Agency reported that on Sept. 11, the Health Bureau questioned Wowprime employees at their head office in Taichung about the company's use of lard oil. Wowprime answered in the negative. However, on Sept. 13, the bureau discovered that Wowprime had been using lard oil, though not the tainted oil produced by Chang Guann. The bureau, believing that Wowprime had concealed this fact, will fine Wowprime between NT$30,000 (S$1,261.80) and up to NT$3 million, according to the law.

In response to the bureau's claims, Yang stated that because Wowprime had technically stopped using all types of lard oil on Sept. 11, the firm felt it was being truthful with investigators. Yang claimed that there were misunderstandings between its staff and the officials. Currently, Wowprime only uses deep-fry oil, olive oil and salad oil, none of which are produced by Chang Guann.

Tainted Oil in Tomato Vegetable Soup

Yang also apologised for Famonn Coffee's use of tainted oil procured from Magic Food company in its tomato vegetable soup. Magic Food is one of the companies alleged to have purchased tainted oil from Chang Guann.

Yang said that to express Wowprime's deepest apologies, customers who had ordered the soup that was included in a combo set from July 28 to Sept. 9 are entitled to a full refund. The total price of each set is NT$218.

Famonn Coffee said that the soup had been on shelves from July 28 until its cancellation on Sept. 6. However, since the switch to new ingredient suppliers takes time, the customers who paid for the soup before Sept. 9 may get refunds as well.

Wowprime is one of the top restaurant corporations in Taiwan, with 15 different restaurant chains. Wowprime owns 401 restaurant branches, including 298 restaurants in Taiwan, 102 in mainland China, and one in Singapore. In addition, Wowprime plans on branching out in the US this year.

Wowprime Chairman Dai Sheng-yi said that because customers believe in Wowprime, he will attentively monitor the quality of the ingredients, to ensure the popularity of Wowprime.