10/26/2013, 00.00
TAIWAN
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New food scandals lead consumers to wonder about "what they can eat"

by Xin Yage
The government fines two companies that made edible oils adulterated with a copper complex of chlorophyllin and sold it as 'extra-virgin olive oil'. Consumers are exasperated by the constant problems with food safety.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - Taiwan is facing another food scandal involving edible oils, like those that had emerged last spring. On 18 October, a large firm, Tatung Changchi Foodstuff Factory Co. Ltd. (大 统 长 基 食品), was fined NT$ 28 million Taiwanese dollars (US$ 950,000) for selling adulterated olive oil, labelled 100 per cent olive oil.

Adulterated edible oils have become a problem. In some cases, a number of products, supposedly made with peanut and chili oil, have come under the scrutiny of the authorities because they contained neither peanut nor chili oil. In one case involving olive oil, what was labelled 'completely' natural olive oil had in fact an additive. Known as E141 in Europe, the substance is a copper complex of chlorophyllins (铜 叶绿素) that gives the product a green colouring.

Despite the crackdown, activist groups are not impressed because fines have so far been very low compared to the billions in Taiwanese dollars earned every year.

Given how hard it is to sift through all the natural and artificial ingredients, it took Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA, 食品 药物 管理局) about a month to check all the cases.

On 19 October, the agency held a press conference to make public its findings about the adulterated oils and announce the hefty fines it was imposing on the culprits.

However this week, another company, Flavor Full Foods (富味鄉食品公司), was caught selling products containing cottonseed oil (棉籽油), a substance that is banned in Taiwan as an edible oil.

Initially, the company denied its products included banned ingredients, but further tests found that, 24 of them, on sale in Taiwanese supermarkets, contained the banned oil, which resulted in a fine of NT$ 8 million (US$ 275,000).

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