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July 23, 2017

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Wholesalers charged for selling expired food

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A husband and wife food wholesaler team, surnamed Chou, has been charged with forgery over the sale of expired items to retailers in Taichung since 2004, the Taichung District Prosecutor Office said yesterday.

According to prosecutors, a food retailer, also surnamed Chou, was also charged with forgery for selling these products in traditional markets in central Taiwan areas.

Prosecutors said that since 2004, the food wholesaler couple purchased expired or nearly expired products from a seller, surnamed Chen, and used a chemical to remove the expiry date before printing a new one.

Chen has since been sentenced to three years and six months in prison by the Changhua District Court for his role in the scheme.

According to prosecutors, the wholesaler couple sold the expired foods and drinks to the retailer, who sold the products to vendors in traditional markets in Taichung.

Prosecutors and the police seized many expired products, including chicken stock powder, green tea, crackers and tomato soup. However, prosecutors said that these expired foods had been sold for nearly 10 years, so many consumers have already eaten these expired products.

According to prosecutors, the food wholesalers and retailer violated laws against forgery and fraud.

Over 33% of Soybean Products Fail Inspection

The Taipei City Government's Department of Health yesterday announced that 10 out of 32 soybean products tested contained preservatives like hydrogen peroxide and benzoic acid, and one of them contained an industrial substance, methanil yellow (皂黃).

According to the head of Taipei's Food and Drug Administration, Chiu Hsiu-yi (邱秀儀), the food seller who sold dried bean curds found to contain methanil yellow refused to reveal the source of the products.

The sellers will each be fined NT$30,000 according to the Act Governing Food Sanitation, and the Department of Health has requested prosecutors to investigate this case, Chiu said.

"If the source of the tainted foods is discovered," Chiu said, "the business owner could be fined a maximum of NT$6 million according to the Act Governing Food Sanitation."

Chiu said that benzoic acid, a type of preservative, can cause harm to the liver, kidney, stomach and intestine if consumed in large amounts.

"Hydrogen peroxide, which is also a type of preservative, will cause symptoms like headaches and vomiting, and can corrode skin, eyes, and the digestive system," Chiu said.

"Methanil yellow, an industrial pigment that is used in paint and leather products, is not allowed to be added in foods because it will cause harm to the liver."

Chiu said that the Department of Health has demanded food vendors take the products in question off shelves immediately.

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