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July 28, 2017

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Meat scam busted, firm fined NT$3 mil.

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Nung Cheng Hsien (農正鮮) company was fined NT$3 million for putting a water-retaining agent in frozen meat to increase the weight of the products for higher profits, Kaohsiung City Government's Department of Health (DOH) announced yesterday.

The DOH said that prosecutors received reports that the Nung Cheng Hsien company, one of the main meat providers for the military and central kitchens that provide lunch for schools, has been adding a water-retaining agent to their meat products.

According to the DOH, by adding the water-retaining agent to frozen meat, the weight of the meat can double, helping to enhance profits for the company.

The DOH said that officials were kept outside the gate and refused entry into Nung Cheng Hsien company when they tried to investigate the case yesterday.

Chen Yueh-pao of the DOH said that a "water-retaining agent" usually refers to a phosphate composite, which can be used legally as a food additive.

However, Chen said, Nung Cheng Hsien company used the water-retaining agent to increase the weight of frozen meat products, which is a violation of the Act Governing Food Sanitation, so the department handed out the maximum fine to the company based on regulations.

Prosecutors Might Question Military Officials

Prosecutors yesterday said that they would not exclude the possibility of questioning military officials in order to understand why the military has maintained it business relationship with Nung Cheng Hsien company for over seven years, despite the company having violated its contract 100 times.

According to prosecutors, Nung Cheng Hsien company also added a color-preserving agent to meat products to keep the meat looking fresh and red.

Prosecutors said the company imported beef from Australia at NT$220 per kilometer, but in their contract with the military, they sell the beef for NT$130 per kilometer.

Military spokesman Luo Shou-he (羅紹和) yesterday said that the Ministry of National Defense already ordered the Army Command Headquarters to investigate if there is any illegal activity involved.

The Army Logistics Command (ALC) said that the military food center has started to recycle all meat products provided by Nung Cheng Hsien company.

According to the ALC, the military did discover through a third party that Nung Cheng Hsien company's meat did not meet the qualifications specified by the contract, but the issues were still within a reasonable range, so the military did not report the company.

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