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Recycled lard oil does not pose immediate health risk: FDA

2014/09/05 21:31

Taipei, Sept. 5 (CNA) The head of Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Friday that the recycled oil in the nation's latest food safety scare will not pose any immediate harm to consumers' health.

Yeh Ming-kung also said the questionable product in the latest incident was ruled as "substandard lard," and the food safety risk posed is still labeled under the "green light," which is a category for products that do not conform to its label, but do not pose a health hazard, according to the FDA classification.

In comparison, "red light" means there is a health risk if the product is used on a short term basis, "yellow light" means health will be harmed if the product is used longterm, and "blue light" means the product can be used, but it contains too high a level of certain ingredients, according to the FDA.

In the latest scandal, Chang Guann Co., a Kaohsiung-based maker of lard, margarine and shortening, is found to have made cooking oil from recycled kitchen waste and byproducts from leather processing plants.

Yeh explained that a meeting of experts on Friday categorized the latest case under the "green light" category mainly because Chang Guann's oil products contained 67 percent of genuine lard.

Although the remaining material adulterated into the lard needs further examination, Yeh said food companies that have used the problematic oil had conducted their own tests and found no trace of heavy metals in them.

The FDA said its laboratory has collected samples of the problematic oil and the results of its tests will come out in three days.

Yeh said participants in the meeting defined the latest incident as "fraud" in nature, and demanded severe punishment.

The health risks of the problematic oil, including the adulterated lard, the purification process, and the possibility of toxic material will also need to be assessed, said Yeh.

Meanwhile, an edible oil expert lashed out at the practice of mixing recycled waste into cooking oil.

Chu Yan-hwa of the Food Industry Research and Development Institute said the incident is like the "gutter oil" scandal in mainland China, in which unscrupulous vendors used cooking oil collected from gutters to make oil they resold. Chu said such oil should never make its way into the food chain.

(By Lung Pei-ning and Lilian Wu)Enditem/cs