The tainted oil in Taiwan’s latest food scandal has met safety standards, the island’s public health authority said on Sept 8, but the products will still be banned from sale.
Taiwan’s consumers have been gripped by fear and anger after the island’s police detained six people on Sept 4 who were selling hundreds of tons of recycled cooking oil made from kitchen waste and grease from leather processing plants.
Chang Guann Co, a well-established cooking oil supplier in Taiwan, purchased the recycled oil to produce 782 tons of lard, with 645 tons sold to 971 food companies and restaurants, including a number of leading brands.
Chang Guann’s lard, which had been refined, met all the safety requirements, except for the test of heavy metals, which has not yet been completed, according to Taiwan’s public health authority.
However, since refining recycled oil into lard is against the law, all products made with the adulterated oil should be removed from shelves, the public health watchdog said.
Food manufacturers, restaurants and snack shops should stop using Chang Guann’s lard. Otherwise, fines can range from NT $60,000 dollars ($2,000) up to NT$50 million dollars, the watchdog said.
Sun Lih-chyun, spokesman for Taiwan’s administrative authority, said Chuan Guann’s tainted oil products are illegal despite the negative test results.
The authorities will mete out severe punishment for those who have broken food safety regulations, Sun assured the public.
Meanwhile, pineapple buns and dumplings have been pulled from shelves in Hong Kong as authorities investigate whether they contain gutter oil from Taiwan.
Philip Ho, an officer from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, told RTHK radio on Monday that dozens of food samples had been taken and that the results are expected in the next few days.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Ho said. “Since we spotted the problem, we have been trying to contact food operators such as importers and bakeries.”
A spokeswoman for the Center for Food Safety said that labs were also conducting tests on mooncakes from retailers across the city.
Popular bakery chain Maxim’s Cakes removed pineapple buns from its shelves over the weekend after confirming they had been produced with lard from Chang Guann.