Chyuan Shun rice to be pulled from shelves
By Joy Lee ,The China Post
December 12, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday officially revoked Chyuan Shun Food Enterprise Co.'s (泉順食品) certificate of food dealership for mislabeling packaged rice, marking the first such revocation in 60 years.
According to the COA, after Chyuan Shun receives official orders, the company will have to immediately take all its packaged rice off store shelves.
The COA said that according to the Food Administration Act, Chyuan Shun may not reapply for a certificate of food dealership for at least one full year.
When asked if this action will damage the rights of those farmers who have contracts to sell rice to Chyuan Shun, COA chief Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) said that Lee Tung-chao (李東朝), chairman of Chyuan Shun, and his family still own other firms which together hold eight valid certificates of food dealership.
“Chyuan Shun can still operate as a food seller, so the rights of those farmers will not be damaged,” said Chen.
“The COA's decision to revoke Chyuan Shun's certificate of food dealership was an attempt to let all food sellers know that it is against regulations to supply mislabeled packaged rice,” said Chen. “The council hopes that this action can better protect the image of local rice and the rights of farmers and consumers.”
Chen also said that the rice mislabeling violations perpetrated by Chyuan Shun were very severe, making it necessary for prosecutors to take over the case. The prosecutors indicted three employees of Chyuan Shun for fraud on Nov. 29.
While questioned over the absence of punishment, including revocation of certificates, for major food sellers who managed to escape sanctions despite violating regulations over 10 times in some cases, Director Lee Tsang-lang (李蒼郎) of the Agriculture and Food Agency (農糧署, AFA) said that it was because the threshold for a food seller to have its certificate revoked was three reported violations by one product.
“However, the threshold was changed to be based on the amount of times a food seller violates regulations instead of violations by specific products, and this new change will be applied to all major food sellers in the future,” said Lee.
In late August, Chyuan Shun was found to have labeled Taiwan as the country of origin on its popular rice brand Sunsuivi (山水米), even though the product did not contain any Taiwanese rice.
Later, during a random inspection in September, the COA found that the company had committed eight counts of product mislabeling, namely the labeling of foreign rice as pricier domestic rice.
Chyuan Shun Chairman Should be Charged: CF
The Consumers' Foundation (CF) yesterday said that the COA should also bring Lee Tung-chao to justice for his alleged involvement in Chyuan Shun's fraud case.
CF Secretary-General Lei Li-fen (雷立芬) said that the foundation fully supported the COA's action to revoke Chyuan Shun's certificate of food dealership.
“Many COA officials were for a long period dissatisfied with Chyuan Shun's attitude, but the company had been circumventing the many punishments handed down by officials by filing administrative appeals,” said Lei.
“However, Lee Tung-chao and his family still own eight certificates to sell food,” said Lei. “Therefore, in order to actually see the effects of this punishment, the COA should also target Lee Tung-chao and conduct an investigation on his possible involvement in the fraud case.”