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Local governments must strengthen food checks: president

2014/09/09 23:02:50

Taipei, Sept. 9 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou attributed the recycled cooking oil scandal Tuesday to lax inspections of food manufacturing factories by local governments and he urged local governments to strengthen their checks on such facilities.

Speaking at a weekly meeting of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), Ma, who doubles as party chairman, made his first public statement on the snowballing scandal after it erupted six days ago.

Taiwanese police last week busted a six-person ring who operated an unlicensed factory in southern Taiwan's Pingtung County and sold recycled waste oil reclaimed from kitchen waste in the county and in neighboring Kaohsiung.

Another company, Chang Guann Co. in Kaohsiung, bought and reprocessed the recycled oil into 782 tons of lard-based oil.

According to Ma, the Pingtung County government had received tip-offs regarding the factory as far back as four years ago but failed to uncover any problems, although the government's Environmental Protection Bureau had meted out fines five times on the factory for water pollution.

Ma praised the Executive Yuan for its quick response to the food safety scandal. He said that after it broke, Premier Jiang Yi-huah quickly convened an emergency meeting and ordered relevant authorities to complete checks on products made with the recycled oil by the end of last weekend. This helped to greatly reduce public concern over food safety, according to Ma.

The president also said relevant government agencies should review and improve a food certification system to better monitor food quality after 14 Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-labeled products made by five suppliers were found to have used the recycled lard oil.

(By Claudia Liu and Evelyn Kao)