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June 29, 2017

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Food firm may have more tainted cooking oil products: health bureau

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Changhua County Public Health Bureau (CCPHB) said yesterday that the remaining food products manufactured by Tatung Changchi Foodstuff Factory Co. Ltd. (大統長基食品), which was accused of impure products and deceptive advertisement, may be tainted as well.

After prosecutors found that the company's cooking oils — including peanut, chili and olive oils — contained no traces of the advertised ingredients following a tip-off, it was discovered yesterday that the factory also produced sesame oil made from flavored essential oils.

According to CCPHB Commissioner Yeh Yen-bo (葉彥伯), the firm has been found putting different labels on the same line of products.

The commissioner explained that Kao Cheng-li (高振利), head of the company, has produced 134 products with only 30-odd formulas.

"We will get to the bottom of this only when we finish inspecting all of the products. The majority of oils that have been tested now consist of the same ingredients but their labels say otherwise; this seems to be the company's specialty," said Yeh.

Investigators have uncovered 82 "impure" oils so far, and have sealed and removed 66 from the company's factory in Changhua.

"We are 16 types short from completing a full investigation, as some products are not in stock and some have been sold to retailers already," said Yeh, who also announced the punishment to be meted out for the company.

"Sticking a new label on any product means that you've produced a new product, and we determine the degree of punishment by the number of intentionally mislabeled products. For every five oils relabeled the punishment increases fivefold."

Cottonseed Oil: Changchi's Shortcut to Wealth

The Ministry of Health and Welfare yesterday announced its determination to uncover similar cases of impure food manufacturing, after it was confirmed that Changchi Foodstuff used cheaper oils, the majority of which being cottonseed oil, in producing its wide variety of cooking oils.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, as much as 40 percent of imported cottonseed oil was ordered by the company, while 60 percent was also used for oil production in many other food factories.

Aside from using copper cholorphyllin, an additive made from plant extracts, the company had imported a total of 3034 tons of cottonseed oil from October 2012 to 2013, said Pan Jyh-quan (潘志寬) of the Department of Health's (DOH) Food and Drug Division.

The DOH will be probing other food factories in Taiwan as well, said Pan.

An employee of the company revealed that Changchi imported massive amounts of cheap cottonseed oil every three months, this being the "money-spinner" for Kao.

"The copper cholorphyllin and essential oils are nothing compared to the cottonseed oil. The more you use the more money you make, but sometimes we use palm oil and canola oil when (cottonseed oil) runs out," the United Daily News reported the employee as saying.

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