CFS mandates recall of edible fats and oils produced by Cheng I and Ting Hsin and related food products

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) today (October 29) issued a Food Safety Order (the Order) to prohibit, with effect from noon today, importing into and supplying within Hong Kong all edible fats and oils (of animal or plant origin) produced by Cheng I Food Co Ltd (Cheng I) and Ting Hsin Oil and Fat Industrial Co Ltd (Ting Hsin) in Taiwan and all food products made with the above-mentioned fats and oils. Food traders are also ordered to recall within a period of 14 days from noon today the affected food supplied by them and dispose of such food subsequently in the manner set out in the Order, which was gazetted today.

A CFS spokesman said, "Following the substandard lard incident involving Chang Guann Co Ltd (Chang Guann) in Taiwan, the Taiwanese authorities further announced early this month that suspected fraudulent fats and oils produced by Cheng I were found to have been produced from substandard ingredients (such as lard for animal feed). The affected products included lard, beef tallow, margarine and shortening. Further investigation by the Taiwanese authorities discovered that lard/lard products from Ting Hsin were also produced from substandard ingredients (such as lard for animal feed). Its substandard fats and oils products were also found to have been produced from beef tallow and coconut oil ingredients from unapproved sources in Vietnam.

"Meanwhile, investigation by the FEHD has revealed that some traders in Hong Kong have imported lards from Cheng I and Ting Hsin. The Taiwanese authorities also notified the FEHD that six food products made with Cheng I's substandard fats and oils had been exported to Hong Kong."

As the safety and quality of Taiwan's fat and oil products remain questionable, the FEHD had earlier taken precautionary measures to stop the import into and supply within Hong Kong of all edible oils from Taiwan. The measures are still in force covering all fats and oils produced in Taiwan which are not stipulated in the Order. The spokesman said that taking into account the latest information, the FEHD has reasonable grounds to believe that fats and oils from both Ting Hsin and Cheng I are very likely unfit for human consumption, unless there is formal notification from the Taiwanese authorities to suggest otherwise. To further safeguard Hong Kong's public health, the FEHD considers that, subsequent to the Chang Guann substandard lard incident, a second Food Safety Order needs to be made to put it beyond doubt that all edible fats and oils produced by Cheng I and Ting Hsin, as well as all food products manufactured with such fats and oils, are prohibited from import into and supply within Hong Kong, and to mandate their recall in a systematic manner so as to ensure that they are no longer in circulation in the local market.

Anyone found guilty of contravening any terms of the Order is liable to a maximum fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for 12 months.

The CFS will continue to follow up on the incident and take appropriate action, which includes liaising closely with the Taiwanese authorities, conducting investigations and monitoring the recall. The CFS will also adopt a risk-based approach and enhance surveillance of edible oil and relatively high-risk foods imported from other places (including Taiwan). Samples will be tested for contaminants in order to ensure food safety.

Ends/Wednesday, October 29, 2014