Hong Kong bans Taiwan firm's 'gutter oil' products; 300 businesses involved

Five-star Hyatt Regency Hotel on list of restaurants and bakeries caught in scandal affecting 500 tonnes of lard imported to city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 September, 2014, 6:29am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 September, 2014, 9:39am

The government yesterday banned the import, sale and supply of all lard and lard products made after March 1 by the Taiwanese firm at the centre of the "gutter oil" scandal.

The ban also covers all food products made by the lard oil supplied by Chang Guann.

Six local importers and some 300 distributors and retailers will have to recall and seal all affected food products within 14 days or face a fine of up to HK$100,000 and up to 12 months in jail. The six importers had bought 11 lard products from Chang Guann.

"We have reason to believe consuming these products would pose a risk to public health," said Vivian Lau Lee-kwan, director of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

Last night, the department released a list of bakeries, restaurants, retailers and distributors involved. It includes the five-star Hyatt Regency Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui; a Café De Coral in Tuen Mun; Pie & Tart in Kwai Chung; Butao Ramen in Sha Tin; Tai Tung Bakery in Yuen Long; and Amigo Restaurant, Happy Valley.

The ban, gazetted under the Food Safety Ordinance, took effect at noon yesterday.

Police are investigating a Hong Kong trading company, Globalway, for allegedly exporting industrial lard oil labelled for human consumption to Chang Guann.

Chang Guann was believed to have blended the lard oil with "gutter oil" - made from recycled food waste - and sold it as edible.

Two men and a woman, including the proprietor of Globalway, were arrested last Friday for conspiracy to defraud. They were released on bail on Saturday.

Lau said about 500 tonnes of lard produced by Chang Guann were imported into Hong Kong and 10 per cent had been shelved. She rejected criticism that authorities had acted slowly.

"There were uncertainties as the incident developed over the past week. Apart from relying on the intelligence provided by Taiwanese authorities … we also asked importers who had bought lard oil from Chang Guann to recall the goods regardless [of whether] they were in question or not," Lau said.

The director also warned retailers "not to take any chances" to defy the order as it was legally binding.

Under the order, importers, distributors and retailers must recall and dispose of the affected food. They are required to report to the department within two working days after the completion of any recall.

The chairman of the Chamber of Food and Beverage Industry, Simon Wong Ka-wo, told a radio programme that the scandal had hit business at local restaurants.

He said about 70 per cent of the lard that bakeries used in Hong Kong came from Taiwan. If they were to replace it with oil from the Netherlands it would be much more expensive, he said.


Tainted product

The six importers which bought lard oil from Chang Guann:

  • Urban Food
  • Dah Chong Hong
  • Synergy Foods
  • Angliss Hong Kong Food Service
  • Hop Hing Oil Procurement
  • Globalway Corporation

Full list of companies involved