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Ting Hsin unit ordered to recall 21 adulterated oils (update)

2013/11/03 18:03:56

Taipei, Nov. 3 (CNA) Ting Hsin Oil & Fat Industrial Co., a major edible oil supplier and subsidiary of the Ting Hsin International Group, was ordered Sunday to recall 21 of its oil products that used adulterated ingredients.

The Pingtung County Public Health Bureau ordered Ting Hsin Oil & Fat to recall 21 of its products that contained adulterated oils from Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co., the company at the heart of an edible oil scandal that has shaken Taiwan.

The products were sold under the brand of Wei Chuan Foods Corp., another subsidiary of the Ting Hsin Group and one of Taiwan's oldest food companies. All Wei Chuan-brand edible oils are produced by the Ting Hsin unit in Pingtung.

Ting Hsin Oil & Fat said Chang Chi oils were also used in its handmade soaps and lighting oils, according to a list of products containing Chang Chi oils provided by the company.

The Pingtung Public Health Bureau will fine Ting Hsin Oil & Fat between NT$30,000 (US$1,020) and NT$3 million because the Pingtung County-based oil supplier failed to provide the list immediately when Pingtung health officials visited it on Oct. 27-28.

The company did admit at the time that it had purchased olive oils and grapeseed oils from Chang Chi in July and September, and health officials seized more than 200 192-kilogram barrels of those oils Ting Hsin Oil & Fat still had in stock.

Wei Chuan Foods said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange that it has launched a recall of the 21 products and will accept returns.

It also pledged to cooperate with an ongoing investigation by government authorities into the case to clarify the facts.

"Without our knowledge, the sources of ingredients used in a few of our company's edible oil products have caused concerns," Wei Chuan said in the filing.

"Based on the highest standard of self-discipline, we will remove some of our edible oil products from store shelves immediately in order to take responsibility and protect consumers' interests," the company said.

Wei Chuan said that all of its edible oil products have been found to be safe in tests for cottonseed oil and copper chlorophyllin -- a coloring agent banned from use in cooking oils in Taiwan.

The food manufacturer also condemned unscrupulous practices of certain companies and said it could take legal action to protect its reputation.

The latest revelation came as government agencies around the country are stepping up their inspections of edible oils in the wake of a scandal that started with the exposure of illicit practices at Chang Chi.

Chang Chi was found in mid-October to have deliberately adulterated its high-end oils, such as olive oils that it labeled as pure, with cheaper cottonseed oil, misleading consumers.

The company, which sells its products under the well-known and widely used Tatung brand, also used a prohibited coloring agent, copper chlorophyllin, to make a cheaper oil look like olive oil.

Flavor Full Foods Inc., the largest sesame oil producer in Taiwan, was found a week later to have adulterated roughly two dozen of its oil products with cottonseed oil dating as far back as 2009.

Formosa Oilseed Processing Co., another major local oil supplier, was fined NT$15 million on Nov. 1 after admitting that six of the olive oils that it claimed were "pure" and imported from Spain or Italy actually contained adulterated olive oil from Chang Chi.

(By Kuo Chih-hsuan, Chen Ching-fang, Han Ting-ting and Jeffrey Wu)
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