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Wednesday, Oct 8, 2014

Asia

Taiwan probes fresh tainted oil claim

AFP | Wednesday, Oct 8, 2014

TAIPEI - Taiwan on Wednesday pulled several products from shelves over fresh allegations that they were contaminated with oil intended for animal feeds, in another food safety scare after a damaging "gutter oil" scandal.

At least three types of cooking oil were ordered to be removed from sale as prosecutors investigated the claims, officials said.

The latest scare comes after hundreds of tonnes of products made with "gutter oil" were recalled after a food safety scandal last month that brought down the island's health minister Chiu Wen-da.

Prosecutors last week indicted Yeh Wen-hsiang, head of the company at the centre of the scandal, on 235 accounts of fraud and food safety violations for selling hundreds of tonnes of "gutter oil" to food companies, bakeries and restaurants.

Three people, including the manager of an unlicensed factory that supplied the firm, were indicted for the same offences while four others were charged with violating waste disposal law.

Yeh has been detained since Sept 13 after investigators discovered his company had purchased 243 tonnes of tainted oil collected from cookers, fryers, and grease traps, as well as recycled grease from leather processing plants.

The contaminated fat was then mixed with regular lard before being distributed to clients.

Since last month, hundreds of tonnes of cakes, bread, instant noodles, cookies, dumplings and other food items have been removed from shelves in Taiwan and Hong Kong for containing the tainted oil, authorities said.

It was the second food safety scandal to hit the island in less than a year.

Last December, a Taiwanese factory owner was sentenced to 16 years in prison for selling olive oil adulterated with cheap cottonseed oil and a banned colouring agent, following mass product recalls.

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