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Taiwan imposes strict inspections on Hong Kong edible oil imports

2014/09/11 13:37:01

Chang Guann's factory in Kaohsiung.

Taipei, Sept. 11 (CNA) Edible oil imports from Hong Kong are now subject to batch-by-batch inspection, with immediate effect, Taiwan's health authorities announced Thursday after a Hong Kong company was found to have exported animal feed-grade oil to Taiwan for human consumption.

The importers must also present test reports certified by the Hong Kong government, said Chiang Yu-mei, deputy chief of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to an investigation by Hong Kong's Center for Food Safety, Hong Kong trading company Globalway Corp. has exported animal feed oil to Taiwan's Chang Guann Co., but has described it as oil for human consumption.

The FDA found that since 2008, Chang Guann has imported 56 shipments totaling 2,385 tons of pork lard from Hong Kong, including 87 tons from Globalway between March and May this year.

At the center of Taiwan's latest food scandal, Kaohsiung-based Chang Guann has been discovered to be using supplied oil extracted from putrid kitchen waste and other substandard ingredients to produce lard-based oil that has been sold downstream to over 1,000 food companies and restaurants around Taiwan.

The problematic oil was purchased from unlicensed operator Kuo Lieh-cheng, who ran an underground facility in southern Taiwan's Pingtung County and was detained by prosecutors last week.

At a news conference Thursday, Chang Guann Chairman Yeh Wen-hsiang went down on his knees to apologize to the public over the incident and said his company has recalled and suspended the production of all lard products to ease anxiety among consumers.

Yeh claimed that his company bought the problematic oil from Kuo unknowingly and that he is "also a victim."

On the lard from Globalway, Yeh said his company had required the Hong Kong supplier to provide certificates proving the lard was edible.

After the oil arrived at Chang Guann's factory, the company tested the oil on its own and rejected products that failed to meet its standards, he said.

He also drank oil produced by his company during the news conference in an attempt to show its safety.

(By Chen Ching-fang, Chang Che-fon and Y.F. Low)