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September 24, 2017

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16 new mislabeled cooking oils discovered

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Sixteen cooking oils were discovered to have false labels while 28 more cooking oils would require more investigation in order to confirm the oil content, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) announced yesterday.

MHW Vice Minister Shiu Ming-neng (許銘能) said that among the 236 cooking oil samples the ministry inspected, 76 of them did not pass the initial fatty acid tests.

"The MHW set a very strict threshold on the initial test to avoid missing any questionable products," Shiu said. "After discovering the 76 questionable oil samples, the ministry asked local health officials to conduct detailed inspections of manufacturers and oil factories for more information."

Shiu said that the MHW invited three experts to a meeting yesterday after receiving all reports from local health authorities and confirmed that 31 of the cooking oil samples failed the fatty acid tests, which suggested that their oil contents were actually oil mixtures instead of pure oils as labeled.

"Except for the 15 oil samples from Tatung Changchi Foodstuff Co. (大統長基食品) and Flavor Full Foods (富味鄉食品公司), the MHW discovered 16 newly mislabeling cooking oils among the 31 samples," said Shiu.

Those oil manufacturers that are proven to have mislabeling products will receive a fine of no less that NT$60,000 and no more than NT$15 million in accordance with the Act Governing Food Sanitation.

According to the MHW, the 16 newly discovered mislabeling cooking oils included Yonji Sesame Oil Firm from New Taipei City and Hui Jia Siang Oil from Taoyuan County.

Based on the documents the MHW provided, among the 16 newly discovered mislabeled cooking oils, eight of them were from companies that signed an affidavit ensuring that the ingredients marked on their labels matched the ingredients inside their products.

"Those oil manufacturers that signed the affidavit but were discovered to have mislabeling products will be investigated by prosecutors and might be charged with fraud," said Shiu.

28 Questionable Oils Stay on Market

The MHW said that the 28 cooking oil samples that still require more information to confirm their oil content have not been taken off shelves so far.

"Among the 28 cooking oil samples, some of them contained imported ingredients and it will take longer for the health officials to request information since some manufacturers are not located in Taiwan," said Shiu.

"The MHW will continue to confirm if those 28 cooking oil samples are mislabeled," said Shiu. "If the ministry discovers any information, the public will be informed immediately."

FDA Officials Punished Over Falsely Issued Document

The MHW said that a director and a deputy director of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) northern center were transferred to other positions following the false issuing of an official document on Wednesday.

The FDA falsely issued a document to local health departments which demanded that the cooking oils in question be immediately removed from store shelves. However, the FDA only wished to tell officials to go to those manufacturers and conduct investigations.

"The two FDA officials misunderstood the order and issued a false document, so the punishment is a necessary move," said Shiu.

"The list was not leaked through the document because it was not a classified document," Shiu said. "And the list was revealed after local health officials notified the oil manufacturers based on the order from the false official document."

Short-selling Orders of Taisun Shares Spike Recently

In the midst of recent food fraud news, Taisun Enterprise Co. shares yesterday suffered some volatility. The changes between daily highest and lowest prices throughout the session were as much as 9.6 percent.

Securities regulatory agencies also noticed that the short-selling orders spiked between Oct. 25-29, totaling nearly 3 million shares, with 2 million shares covered on Oct. 30.

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