A tainted-oil scandal in Taiwan could result in a shortage of groceries, and could even affect large international companies including Starbucks. Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration has announced it will pull all products linked to the Chang Guann Co., effective Saturday morning.
Earlier this week, the company was found to be selling lard-based oil, normally used for industrial products, as a foodstuff. According to Want China Times, a Taiwanese newspaper, Chang Guann purchased the oil from a Hong Kong trading company, Globalway Corp.
According to the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong, 14 of the listed products are also items that have been sold overseas, in places like Brazil, France, Hong Kong, mainland China, Macau, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. In addition, more than 1,000 companies are reported to have been affected by the substandard oil, including global retail chains like Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and 7-Eleven. Local health bureaus across Taiwan will reportedly be sending inspectors to ensure all listed products have been removed. The Taiwan FDA announced that stores continuing to sell such products would face a fines up to 3 million Taiwanese dollars, which is equivalent to just under $100,000 U.S.
In an effort to clear shelves of compromised food supplies, Taiwan’s FDA deputy director-general Chiang Yu-mei said an initial list of 249 food products affected by the tainted oil supply will be pulled from grocery shelves.
According to the health authority, the comprehensive recall of all Chang Guann-related products could lead to a temporary shortage of some food supplies in Taiwanese groceries as stocks are replaced with safe food.
Chang Guann reportedly imported a total of 87 tons of oil that was illegally relabeled to be fit for human consumption. Branded as Chuan Tung Fragrant Lard Oil, the product, which is a combination of recycled kitchen waste oil and lard, was sold to roughly 1,256 retail businesses.
Chang Guann’s vice president Tai Chin-chuan is being investigated for his alleged role in the tainted oil supply, but was released on Thursday on bail as the probe continues. On the same day, Chang Guann’s president, Yeh Wen-hsiang, held a press conference, where he apologized for the scandal and drank a cup of the oil to prove it was not harmful to humans. Chang Guann is maintaining that they were unaware that the oil supply provided by Globalway was not suitable for human consumption.