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Premier apologizes over cooking oil scare

2013/11/01 20:01:48

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (left) and Minister of Health and Welfare Chiu Wen-ta attend a plenary session of the Legislature Friday.

Taopei, Nov. 1 (CNA) Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Friday that he would apologize to the public Friday over the recent cooking oil scare.

"I'm willing to apologize to the public," the premier said, noting that the scandal has caused panic among the public.

He said the most urgent task now is to build a system to prevent substandard food from reaching the market.

"We have the confidence and determination to push for such an effort," the premier said.

He was responding to demands by opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chiech-ju that he apologize over the recent cooking oil scare.

The scandal began last month when Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co. was found to have deceived consumers for many years by selling adulterated products labeled as pure oils.

The company, which sells its products under the well-known and widely used Tatung brand, has also been charged with using a prohibited coloring agent, copper chlorophyllin, in its olive oil.

Taiwan's largest sesame oil producer, Flavor Full Foods, was also found to have sold adulterated oil labeled as 100 percent pure oil from as far back as 2009.

In view of the public scare, the Ministry of Health and Welfare kicked off a safety campaign, mobilizing 511 officials from 22 cities and counties around the country. They have so far tested 2,295 cooking oil products in 1,239 shopping outlets, and have found 63 of them to be incorrectly labeled.

The ministry also said that out of 28 products requiring further safety confirmation published Thursday, six passed, two failed because of mislabeling and the others required further screening.

In keeping with Health Ministry instructions, health officials in southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung checked on cooking oil in supermarkets there and pronounced all of it as being safe.

In central Changhua County, health officials found nothing illegal when checking on retailers and restaurants.

In central southern Taiwan's Yunlin County, officials raided groceries, supermarkets and traditional markets, but found no unsafe items. They will target night markets in the next round of inspections.

In Tainan, officials removed six products from store shelves after they were found to have been mislabeled, while in Keelung, northern Taiwan, a sesame oil product was found to have been mislabeled and was recalled.

In Yilan County in northeastern Taiwan, officials found 16 products mislabeled and demanded that they be removed from shelves.

(By Chen Wei-ting, Lung Jui-yun, Wang Shu-fen and Lilian Wu)