Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-11-04 04:48 PM
The Industrial Development Bureau announced Saturday night that it is already readying the paperwork to cancel FOPCP’s GMP certification and that it is waiting for the documents confirming non-compliance from the Taichung City Health Bureau. He added that of the 21 Wei Chuan products found to have illegal or undisclosed additives, only one – Wei Chuan Blended Unsaturated Essential Oil – had received GMP certification.
Outsiders speculate that officials at Ting Hsin’s Pingtung plant acted on their own on October 27 in informing local health authorities that the company had purchased problem oils from Tatung. The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) was apparently informed on October 29, they say, but did not act to make the news public until Tatung CEO Kao Chen-li told prosecutors that his company had sold oil to Ting Hsin. It was not until November 3 – eight days after the sale of Tatung oil to Ting Hsin was known to local health authorities – that an order was finally issued to remove 21 Wei Chuan products from the shelves. To the outside world it looks like MHW is ‘willing to swat gnats but loath to take on tigers,’ waiting for news about large manufacturers to work its way to the surface before moving to make the facts public.
Chinese media reported on October 4 that Wei Chuan European-style Gold Select Blended Oil had appeared on a list of products containing oils produced by Tatung. A reporter from the Xiamen Daily News asked a Wei Chuan representative in Xiamen whether that particular oil contained problem oil, only to be told that the representative "could not say" anything about it.
Prosecutors chasing shipping lists for Tatung oil
Lin Han-chiang, Director of the Changhua District Prosecutors Office, said Monday that the first time agents went to Tatung’s plant in Changhua on October 16, company CEO Kao Chen-li showed them red and blue barrels marked ‘Product of Spain’ that Kao said contained imported oil. Lin says prosecutors now say Kao’s remarks were apparently intended to mislead investigators.
When prosecutors asked why the company had different-colored barrels with the same capacity of 192 liters, Kao replied that the blue barrels contained cold-pressed virgin olive while the red were extra virgin hot-pressed olive oil, both 100% olive oil imported from Spain. The barrels were stacked in a mixing area and not in a packaging area and there was no dispensing equipment nearby, and what Kao told investigators was not the truth, said Lin.
Changhua County prosecutors are currently going through a large database downloaded from Tatung’s corporate computer system. They report that so far they have not seen evidence of shipments to FOPCO or Ting Hsin/Wei Chuan, the latest companies to become implicated in the maze of Tatung cooking oils. They suspect that there may be other internal files that they have not yet obtained and are looking for the data.
MHW scrambling to explain its actions
With legislators charging that MHW was aware of several large food oil suppliers who were using oils provided by Tatung Changchi, the ministry was scrambling Monday to explain its actions regarding disclosure of findings. Hsu Ming-neng, Vice Minister of Health and Welfare, said Monday morning that the ministry knew that Ting Hsin Wei Chuan’s Pingtung factory had problems with its oil products and that it had purchased oil from Tatung Changchi, but explained that it had not made this information public because evidence had not been confirmed until Sunday, Nov. 3, when the news was finally announced..
Reports of troubles with Tatung products broke out on October 16 with the discovery that its products labeled and sold as Tatung Extra Virgin Olive Oil had been mixed with low cost edible oil and colored with copper chlorophyll, Ten days later, said Hsu, it was discovered that Ting Hsin’s Pingtung factory had purchased orders of Tatung olive oil products. On October 16 Changhua prosecutors showed that Tatung had added copper chlorophyll to its blended olive oil, but MHW officials did not act to check on the situation at the Pingtung factory until October 29. .
Hsu said that both FOPCO and Hsin Ting had stealthily added Tatung oil to their products even as they offered affidavits to the contrary. He said this shows that the companies have little credibility any more in the case and added that they will be investigated thoroughly for any evidence of forgery, fraud or other crimes.