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China Times: Oil scandal exposes failure of government supervision

China Times: Oil scandal exposes failure of government supervision

Once again, Taiwan's food industry has been disgraced after various Tatung-brand edible oil products were discovered to have been adulterated with cheap cottonseed oil as a way to boost profits. The scandal exposes not only a lack of business ethics on the part of Kao Chen-li, the owner of Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co. that produced the oils, but also the incompleteness of the country's laws and the incompetence and laziness of our government officials. The Act Governing Food Sanitation was amended in June to raise the maximum fine and jail term for violations to NT$15 million and life in prison, respectively. The perpetrators, however, will not be sentenced to heavy prison terms unless their products cause fatalities. In the case of the plasticizer contamination scandal that seriously damaged the country's food industry in 2011, the main perpetrator was sentenced to only 13 years in prison. By comparison, China significantly overhauled its food safety laws following the melamine contamination scandal that affected dairy products there in 2008, in which the perpetrators were heavily penalized. Now, China's health authorities take immediate action to conduct tests and issue risk alerts once a food safety incident occurs. Every time a similar incident happens in Taiwan, however, the country's health authorities often pay more attention to protecting the business reputation of the affected companies than the rights of consumers. In fact, adulteration was already suspected in Tatung-brand oils during an examination conducted by Meiho University for the Ministry of Health and Welfare last February, but the ministry did not investigate further. The failure of government supervision is also highlighted in the fact that Chang Chi owned 17 Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certificates issued by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which were only revoked after the scandal came to light. (Editorial abstract -- Oct. 23, 2013) (By Y.F. Low)


Updated : 2021-05-06 04:50 GMT+08:00