Updates on prohibition of imports and sale of all edible oil of animal origins produced in Taiwan

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (October 11) reminded the food trade that in response to the Taiwanese authorities' announcement on October 8 that there was a re-emergence of substandard edible oil and a wide range of products might be involved, the Centre, upon risk assessments, had prohibited imports into and sale within Hong Kong of all edible oil of animal origins produced in Taiwan. Traders who have the products concerned in their possession should immediately stop using or selling them. They should also approach the CFS as soon as possible.

A CFS spokesman said, "In the past few days, the Centre has been proactively investigating the sales of oil products produced by Cheng I Food Co., Ltd (Cheng I) and Ting Hsin Oil & Fat Industrial Co., Ltd. (Ting Hsin) in the local market. Investigation results revealed that three traders, namely Hop Hing Oil Procurement Limited, Lam Soon Products Supply (Hong Kong) Company Limited and Rich Strong International Limited, had imported lard from Ting Hsin. The Centre is tracing the distribution of the lard concern. Furthermore, the CFS discovered that the Maxim's Caterers Limited had imported lard manufactured by Cheng I. The company claimed that the Maxim's Group stopped using all lard made in Taiwan since September 8 after the "Chang Guann Incident" and initiated a recall of the product concerned.

"From October 8 till now, the CFS has marked and sealed about 200 tonnes of edible oil of animal origins imported from Taiwan."

"With regard to other food products that are suspected to be affected by the substandard oil, the CFS will take appropriate follow-up actions in accordance with notifications from the Taiwanese authorities. The CFS welcomes voluntary recalls of any products that are in doubt by retailers selling Taiwanese foods and appeal to them to report recalls to the Centre," he added.

The CFS has been in close contact with the Taiwanese authorities on the repeated incidents of substandard lard in Taiwan of late. About the "Chang Guann Incident", the Centre, upon the Taiwanese authorities' request, promptly provided before mid-September information about two batches of lard products totalling 87 tonnes that were exported to Taiwan by the Globalway Corporation Limited. With regard to the Cheng I substandard oil incident this time, the CFS has not received any request for information from relevant authorities so far.

According to Section 54 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132), 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 CFS will continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate actions in a timely manner.

Ends/Saturday, October 11, 2014