Having assessed the latest developments of the Taiwanese authorities' investigations into the incident of substandard edible oil, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced today (October 15) that the Centre had decided to implement further preventive measures by imposing a total ban on import and sale within Hong Kong of all edible oil produced in Taiwan. In other words, apart from edible oil of animal origins which was announced last week, edible oil of plant origins is also included in the restriction list today. Traders who have the products concerned in their possession should immediately stop using or selling them, so as to prevent the affected edible oil from entering the local food chain again and to safeguard public health.
A CFS spokesman said, "since early September, the CFS has been following up on the substandard lard incident in Taiwan closely. According to the latest information today, the Taiwanese authorities discovered that some traders failed to meet the requirements of customs declaration. Imported butter, coconut oil and palm kernel oil were declared as being for industrial use and the imported items were not registered for inspection. Hence, the Taiwanese authorities ordered the trade concerned to shut down the production lines of the oil products in question with immediate effect, submit report within a specific time and seal the above-mentioned imported butter and oil products of plant origins. As a precautionary measure, related products such as ghee, margarine and coconut oil have to be taken off the shelves pending investigations."
"The above development has caused the CFS to also doubt the safety and quality of edible oil of plant origins produced in Taiwan. Having conducted risk assessment, it has been decided that import and sale within Hong Kong of all edible oil produced in Taiwan should be banned with immediate effect," he added.
The spokesman also revealed that about 130 tonnes of affected lard and about one tonne of affected food products have been marked and sealed in connection to the Chang Guann recall incident.
With regard to the second wave of the incident which involved Ting Hsin Oil & Fat Industrial Co., Ltd. and Cheng I Food Co., Ltd, the CFS spokesman said, "Since imports and sale of all edible oil of animal origins produced in Taiwan have been prohibited last week, the Centre found that, apart from the four traders which had been announced, three more companies have imported lard or lard products from Taiwan. They were Hengxing Food (HK) Co., Limited, Teamon Products Limited and Wah Wai Enterprise Company Limited. Investigation is still underway."
He added, "furthermore, a number of retail chains, including AEON Stores (Hong Kong) Co., Limited, PARKnSHOP, Wellcome and 759STORE, to tie in with CFS' operation, took preventive measures by stop selling food products suspected to be made of those edible oil of animal origins concerned and notified the CFS about it. The CFS urges other traders to respond to its appeal by initiating recalls of suspected products and report to the Centre as soon as possible."
According to Section 54 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132) (the Ordinance), all food for sale in Hong Kong, locally produced or imported, should be fit for human consumption. An offender is subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months upon conviction. Section 52 of the Ordinance provides that any person sells to the prejudice of a purchaser any food which is not of the nature, substance or quality of the food demanded by the purchaser shall be guilty of an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for three months upon conviction.
The spokesman said that the CFS will continue to keep close contact with the Taiwanese authorities and take appropriate actions in a timely manner.
Ends/Wednesday, October 15, 2014