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United Daily News: Ting Hsin group forgets social responsibility

2014/10/11 13:17:06

Cheng I Food Co., a subsidiary of Ting Hsin International Group, was exposed earlier this week as having sold lard mixed with animal feed oil not meant for human consumption, making it the third time Ting Hsin group was found to be involved in a food scandal within a year. This has drawn widespread public outrage and consumers have begun to boycott the company's products.

The scandal has seriously tarnished the image of Ting Hsin, when the enterprise is expanding its businesses and entering the telecommunication industry.

Starting out as a small and medium-sized business in the central county of Changhua, Ting Hsin has now become one of Taiwan's most established food companies, after its successful operations in China.

A few years ago, the enterprise responded to the Taiwan government's policies aimed at attracting Taiwanese businessmen based in China to return home to invest. However, Ting Hsin forgot to bring back social responsibility and ethics of entrepreneurship.

Ting Hsin was first embroiled in a food scandal last November, when it had to apologize for marketing its oils as pure when they had actually been adulterated with lower-cost oil.

The Ting Hsin group's problems heated up again last month, when its food-related subsidiary Wei Chuan Foods Corp. had to recall 12 of its cooking oil products after it emerged that oil from one of its suppliers used in the products had been made from recycled kitchen waste and industrial grease.

Ting Hsin's repeated problems seem unforgivable for the following reasons. The Ting Hsin group was established by the Wei family decades ago by manufacturing edible oils, so it is impossible that they did not know that animal feed oil cannot be used to produce edible oil for humans.

Since the first scandal was exposed last November, Ting Hsin still has not moved to improve the quality of its products and instead continued to sell problematic oils. With Cheng I occupying an estimated 80 percent share of the lard and lard-based oil market in Taiwan, the management focused on only maximizing business profits and ignored their social responsibility.

Although there have been progress on the government's policies to attract Taiwanese businesses overseas to set up factories, R&D centers and headquarters back home, the government should also take a closer look at the results of those policies.

Food safety cannot just rely on the conscience of food companies and on severe penalties. Government agencies must also establish comprehensive management systems and rigorous checks. It is a disappointment that the government has appeared passive in maintaining food safety.

Ting Hsin returned to Taiwan as a successful enterprise, but it forgot to come back with a sense of social responsibility. Given its reckless attitude on food safety issues, how can it not enrage the public? (Editorial abstract -- Oct. 11, 2014)

(By Elaine Hou)