Bakery scandal just tip of deceptive food ad iceberg
The China Post news staffNegotiations between the Taipei City Government and Top Pot Bakery yesterday hit an impasse.
August 28, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The bakery had been boasting in its advertisements that its bread was made with natural ingredients and zero flavoring essence. This was found to be a somewhat inaccurate claim: the company had been adding artificial essences into its breads.
The matter was recently exposed in an article by a customer of the bakery from Hong Kong. The piece sparked heated discussion in Taiwan. The Taipei City Government later inspected one of the bakery chain's stores and discovered that the firm had in fact been adding artificial essences into its breads. The Taipei Department of Health fined the firm NT$180,000 for deceptive advertising.
In light of the incident, the business on Aug. 24 announced a temporary work suspension until Aug. 27. Taipei prosecutors are currently investigating the case, citing potential fraud.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) condemned Top Pot Bakery. He called it “abominable” that the firm presented false advertisements to “deceive” consumers, claiming the firm's act was fraud.
Hau further requested the Department of Labor to thoroughly investigate whether the firm's temporary work suspension has hurt its employees' rights.
The Taipei City Government yesterday demanded that Top Pot Bakery offer refunds to customers of three times the purchase amount. For its part, Top Pot Bakery is only willing to refund the exact purchase amount and give a coupon for 25 percent of the amount.
The city government said it regrets that negotiations have hit an impasse, adding that in order to protect consumer rights it does not rule out the possibility of pressing charges against Top Pot Bakery in collaboration with consumer protection organizations.
So far, the Taipei City Government has been handling the matter harshly, which is a good thing for consumers and at the same time warns food providers against false advertising.