FOOD SAFETY

Hong Kong, Taiwan ban 'gutter oil' firm's products

Hundreds of products likely to be affected; violators will face stiff fines

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 September, 2014, 11:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 5:53pm

Hong Kong will prohibit the sale of all products made with lard or cooking oil supplied by Taiwanese company Chang Guann - accused of selling tainted edible oil.

The government will release a list soon of the affected products, which will be confiscated and destroyed.

The announcement came hours after Taiwan extended a ban on the tainted oil to all edible oils supplied by the company and all food made using its products.

Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration drafted an initial list of 249 products - including instant noodles, crackers, buns and dumplings - that can no longer be sold. Fourteen of these were sold in 12 other countries and territories, including mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Three people were arrested for fraud by Hong Kong police investigating the sale by trading company Globalway to the Taiwanese firm of lard oil - meant for use in animal feed or for industry - that was labelled fit for human consumption.

READ MORE: Hong Kong trio detained for fraud in gutter oil investigation

Taiwanese authorities say Chang Guann blended some of this lard oil - produced from pork fat - with "gutter oil" recycled from food waste and leather processing and passed it off as regular cooking oil.

The director of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, Vivian Lau Lee-kwan, said a legal order giving effect to the ban on all 25 Chang Guann oil and lard brands would be handed down "in days". Violators would face up to a year in jail and a fine of HK$100,000, Lau said.

At least six city firms have imported edible oil from Chang Guann, including Globalway.

"We urge members of the food industry not to use these oils, and [remove] all products made by [Chang Guann]," Lau said.

It follows Taiwan's decision to begin removing all Chang Guann-linked products from sale today. Authorities there continued their questioning of a company executive about its imports of ingredients.

Chiang Yu-mei, deputy director general of Taiwan's FDA, said outlets still selling the affected products could be fined up to NT$3 million (HK$775,000).

The scandal has badly affected food businesses in Taiwan.

"There used to be long queues of customers for our fried chicken steaks. Now there's no queue, even though we never use lard oil - just soybean oil," said a vendor at Taipei's Shihlin night market.

More than 1,000 companies are thought to have been affected by the scandal, including Starbucks, 7-Eleven and Maxim's Group in Hong Kong.