Consumers enraged as MOHW drops fine against Chang Chi Foods
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-10 03:33 PM
The Ministry of Health and Welfare slapped Chang Chi Foodstuffs with a fine for NT$1.85 billion last year for producing olive oil blended with cottonseed oil and other products, then labeling it as virgin or pure olive oil and selling it at inflated prices. The fine came after months of investigation and testing by the Changhua County Health Department in conjunction with prosecutors, tracing down violators and confirming their misdeeds. Prosecutors found that many of the substances added illegally to cooking oil were harmful to humans and that the offending producers were making scandalous profits off their illicit activities.

Now less than a year later MOHW has announced that based on the principle of double jeopardy it has decided that Chang Chi should not be punished twice for the same violation and is lifting the fine for collecting illegal profits. The decision by the MOHW has dealt a severe blow to the morale of grassroots inspectors in Changhua and several other areas when food scandals have taken place. At the same time, many consumers and wholesalers have criticized the ministry for going counter to the intent of investigators and prosecutors who participated in the investigation and trial. They warn that dropping the fine against Chang Chi sets a dangerous precedent and will cause serious damage to the government’s ability to monitor and control illegal activities in food production and other areas of business.

Changhua County Health Department Director Yeh Yan-po says that he will wait until the department is notified by the department that the fine is to be lifted before meeting with county officials to deciding on what action to take next. He notes that if Chang Chi chairman Kao Chun-lee is not held accountable for his part in the scandal he will petition MOHW to re-instate the penalty in full

Kao was sentenced to sixteen years in prison and fined NT$50 million for his actions but others implicated in the scandals were hit only with fines of NT$3 million. Many consumers were outraged at the time that the penalty was too lax, and the MOHW decision on double punishment will only add to their drive to seek other ways to punish those involved in the scams.

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