Taiwanese makers of popular Master Kong noodles involved in cooking oil scandal

In Taiwan's latest food controversy, companies have produced cooking oil with illegal additives

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 8:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 9:07pm

A multitude of Taiwanese companies have become embroiled in a tainted oil food scare, including the owners of popular instant noodle and beverage brand Master Kong.

Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration announced on Wednesday that at least 12 different cooking oils manufactured by local companies contained prohibited additives such as copper chlorophyllin, a cheap colouring agent banned from cooking oils for its potentially dangerous effects to the liver.

The companies implicated in the scandal were many of Taiwan’s major food providers, including Twusow Industry, Taisun Enterprise, Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory and Ting Hsin International Group, owners of the Master Kong instant noodle brand.

In a Taipei press conference, Wei Yin-chun, chairman of Ting Hsin International Group subsidiary Wei Chuan Foods, claimed that the prohibited additives had not been added knowingly.

“We apologise to the shareholders and the general public for the unrest caused to you,” Wei said.

Food items distributed by Ting Hsin, such as the company’s famous Master Kong instant noodles, may have been processed with the tainted oil, local media reports claimed.

Representatives for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed Tingyi Holding Corporation, the subsidiary of Ting Hsin that produces Master Kong noodles, were quick to dispute these allegations.

“[Tingyi] uses palm oil for the production of its products,” a company statement read. “The oil materials are imported directly from suppliers in Southeast Asia and no oil materials were procured from Taiwan.”

Despite this, Tingy saw its stock fall 2.05 per cent last week after news of the scandal broke.

Wei Chuan Foods was fined NT$3 million (HK$800,000) for failing to provide a list of the tainted products to Food and Drug Administration representatives during a mandatory factory inspection.

The company faces another fine of NT$300 million (HK$79 million) if investigations prove that the prohibited additives were intentionally added.

The oil scandal is the latest in a series of food-related controversies to hit Taiwan. In 2011, the island’s soft drink makers came under fire for using industrial plasticiser in their beverages, and earlier this year, diet pills produced by a Taiwanese company were discovered to contain unauthorised drugs.