‘Gutter oil’ taints Taiwanese food, regulatory agency


According to a published report, bakery and other food items from more than 1,000 restaurants and businesses in Taiwan have been pulled from the shelves after authorities identified these products were made with cooking oil containing slaughterhouse waste, grease from leather factories and recycled oil from kitchen grease traps, cookers and fryers.

This “gutter oil” was then reportedly sold unknowingly to businesses by a single Taiwanese company and is currently accounting for more than 200 tons of tainted oil and oil-laced products throughout Taiwan and into Hong Kong.  Executives from the company are responding that they were misled by their suppliers in the production process and were unaware of the tainted oil they were selling.

This crisis has reached new heights after it was discovered earlier this week that several of the tainted products sold were certified safe by the Taiwan Food Good Manufacturing Practice Development Association, the industry body responsible for issuing certificates of quality in Taiwan.

Over the course of the association’s 25-year history, quality certificates can be issued after just a single product from a particular manufacturer passes relevant tests, a standard that is now under scrutiny. One the association’s leadership says they aim to enhance an effort to improve the certification process and regain the trust of their consumers. According to authorities however, this will not be an easy task as the current 500 food safety employees are already trying to regulate a food and beverage industry consisting of 300,000 manufacturers.

This is causing many to call into question the role the government should take in the region’s food safety issues as this scandal marks the third major food crisis to hit Taiwan in the past four years, leaving the food and beverage industry suffering along with their reputation as a reliable food manufacturing hub in the Greater China region.

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