2013 Taiwan food scandal
The 2013 Taiwan food scandal refers to food safety incidents in the Republic of China (Taiwan) that began in October 2013. Affected products included cooking oil, health pills, alcoholic beverages, milk and rice.
Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co.
Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co. (Chinese: 大統長基) was found to have used copper chlorophyllin, an illegal coloring agent for cooking oil, in its olive oil and have adulterated its higher-end cooking oil with cheaper cottonseed oil. The company was fined NT$ 28.6 million in accordance to the Act Governing Food Sanitation after authorities have found that their products had been adulterated. In December 2013 company chairman Kao Chen-li was sentenced to sixteen years in prison for his role in the scandal. The company was also mandated to pay a further NT$50 million fine. A NT$1.85 billion fine levied by the Changhua County Public Health Bureau was annulled in July 2014 because Kao and two other company executives had already been jailed. Kao Tsung-hsien of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Administrative Appeal Committee stated:
Given that the Changhua District Court has handed down a punishment against the company’s chairman, Kao Cheng-li [in December last year], the committee members decided to cancel the NT$1.85 billion fine in accordance with Article 26 of the Administrative Penalty Act.
Flavor Full Food Inc.
Flavor Full Food Inc. (Chinese: 富味鄉食品股份有限公司) was accused of blending cheaper cottonseed oil into more expensive cooking oils to increase their profit. On 26 October 2013, the company admitted of their wrongdoings through health officials. The company had adulterated 24 of its products sold in Taiwan with cheaper cottonseed oil, and also added flavoring agents to one of its peanut oil products. The company had been fined NT$ 8 million for 25 violations. The former chairman and his brother were each sentenced to sixteen months in prison and ordered to pay NT$25 million in September 2014. The company itself was ordered to pay a further NT$5 million fine.
Formosa Oilseed Processing Co.
Formosa Oilseed Processing Co. (Chinese: 福懋油) was found to intentionally mislabel their six cooking oil mixtures as pure olive oils. The company general manager issued an apology saying that the company will stop selling the small-package olive oil. The company was fined NT$ 15 million.
Geneherbs Biotechnology Co.
The weight-loss pills manufactured by the Geneherbs Biotechnology Co. (Chinese: 菁茵荋生物科技) were found to contain unauthorized drugs. The pills product called the Wellslim Plus+ contains cetilistat, a lipase inhibitor designed to treat obesity.
Sing-Lin Foods Corporation
Taisun Enterprise Co.
On 20 November 2013, the Food and Drug Administration of Ministry of Health and Welfare confirmed the grapeseed oil made by Taisun Enterprise Co. (Chinese: 泰山) contains the prohibited food additive copper chlorophyllin complex.
Ta Lien Alcohol Company
The contents of 11 out of 12 alcohol products manufactured by Ta lien Alcohol Company (Chinese: 大聯製酒工業公司) were found not to match the ingredients listed on their labels as announced by the Department of Finance of Changhua County Government on 28 October 2013. The company was fined NT$ 5.5 million.
Ting Hsin International Group
The chairman of Ting Hsin International Group (Chinese: 頂新集團) was indicted in early November 2013 on fraud charges because of mislabeling products and violating the Act Governing Food Sanitation in connection to adulterated oil purchased from Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co.
Wei Chuan Food Corp
ROC President – On 23 October 2013, President Ma Ying-jeou pledged to strengthen inspection on food and beverage manufacturers and severely punish those with altered food products. He also ordered the Ministry of Health and Welfare to hold a national food safety conference in November 2013 to address the issues.
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – On 29 October, Deputy Head Wu Hsiu-ying said that the MOHW had drafted law amendments to increase penalties for any food fraud. The maximum fines would be increased, while the minimum fines would remain the same. FDA is also seeking heavier criminal penalties for manufacturers of adulterated or counterfeit food by longer prison serving duration. Rewards will also be given to any whistle blower exposing food fraud within his/her company.
- Deputy Minister Shiu Ming-neng held an interim press conference on 30 October 2013. There is a list of 37 cooking oil products in which he would ask the MOHW officials to go to those manufacturers and conduct investigation because of being suspected to contain fatty acid issues. The list consists of Taisun Enterprise Co. (Chinese: 泰山), Ting Hsin International Group (Chinese: 頂新集團) and Taiwan Sugar Corporation (Chinese: 台糖).
ROC Minister of Economic Affairs (MOEA) – Vice Minister Woody Duh said that the MOEA Industrial Development Bureau is reviewing the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) system and might require a manufacturer to present its export and import invoices and declarations and to allow on-the-spot inspection for its production line when it seek certification. He said that the MOEA will ensure that the GMP is a guarantee for safety, and without it consumers will be exposed more to unsafe foods.
ROC Environmental Protection Administration – Minister Stephen Shen said on 28 October that he would instruct local cleaning squads to accept and recycle oil bottles that still contain the adulterated oil.
Democratic Progressive Party – Former Chairman Shih Ming-teh said on 24 October 2013 that he and his friends would file a class-action lawsuit against Flavor Full Food Inc. to seek compensation over its adulterated oil products because his household's organic sesame oil was all from the company. Any compensation he receives from the lawsuit will be donated to charity organizations.
In Mainland China, a food distributor in Fujian filed a lawsuit against Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co. to seek damages for compensation. Xiamen had ordered 40,000 liters of cooking oil made by Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co. to be removed from shelves and stepped up inspections on edible oil products purchased from Taiwan.
In United States, stores removed all Taiwanese foods tainted by the chemicals and other questionable products off the shelves.
- "Food agency finds more mislabeled rice". FTV News. YouTube. 28 November 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Hsin-hui, Lu; Scully Hsiao (22 October 2013). "Singaporean importers of Taiwanese oil barred from shipping". Central News Agency. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Mo Yan-chih; Shih Hsiu-chuan (24 October 2013). "Ma vows tougher food inspections". Taipei Times. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Tse-hao, Wu; Jay Chen (16 December 2013). "Businessman gets 16-year sentence in edible oil scandal". Central News Agency. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
- Hsu, Stacy (11 July 2014). "Chang Chi's adulterated edible oil fine rescinded". Taipei Times. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
- "Flavor Full Food admits adulterating its edible oil". Taipei Times. 25 October 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Wu, Jhe-hao; Wu, Lillian (1 October 2014). "Prosecutors appeal ruling against Flavor Full executives". Central News Agency. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- "Flavor Full Foods chairman and brother sentenced". Taipei Times. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- Lee, Joy (3 November 2013). "Formosa Oilseed Processing Co. fined NT$15 mil. for mislabeling". The China Post. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Yan-chih, Mo; Chris Wang (26 October 2013). "Lien defends daughter's investment". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
- Fuchs, Chris (20 November 2013). "Tainted by scandal". Taipei Times. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Lee, Joy (21 November 2013). "4 inspections confirmed Taisun's tainted oil: FDA". The China Post. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Lee, Joy (29 October 2013). "Changchi affiliate busted for putting false labels on 11 alcohol products". The China Post. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- "Xiamen pulls Taiwanese cooking oil from shelves". Want China Times. 9 November 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- "Taiwan food tycoon grilled over cooking oil scandal". Straits Times. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- "More firms suspected in tainted oil scandal". TaiwanNews.com. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Ching-yi, Wang; Chen Ching-fang & Scully Hsiao (29 October 2013). "Taiwan mulls heavier penalties for fraudulent food makers". Central News Agency. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Lee, Joy (31 October 2013). "List of 37 oils that 'failed tests' leaked to Internet: MHW". The China Post. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- I-chia, Lee (29 October 2013). "EPA will take in bottles of adulterated oil: minister". Taipei Times. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- "Fujian distributors to file suit against Changchi". Central News Agency. The China Post. 12 November 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- "Taiwan food scandal spreads abroad". Central News Agency. YouTube. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2013.