Taiwan fines edible oil company $1.6m

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Image caption More than 1,000 businesses have been asked to recall food products that have been identified as containing dirty or recycled waste oil

Taiwan has fined an edible oil manufacturer $50m Taiwan New dollars ($1.6m; £1.03m) over its sales of dirty recycled waste oil.

The fine charged against Chang Guann Co. by the Kaohsiung government is the highest possible under local food safety rules.

Public concerns erupted earlier this month over reports dirty cooking oil had been on sale across the country.

The government said it was boosting its efforts to address the problem.

It said 235 manufacturers that had purchased dirty oil from Chang Guann had been inspected and that 213 food items had been found to contain dirty lard.

Some 1,020 retail businesses were then asked to recall those food products identified, the government said.

The scare is the latest food scandal to hit Taiwan in the past two years and threatens to tarnish the island's reputation as a paradise for food lovers.

Public reassurance

Several affected businesses owners in Taiwan, who say they unknowingly bought the oil, are holding press conferences this week and eating food products themselves on camera in an attempt to reassure the public their products are safe.

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Image caption Scandals over so-called gutter oil have caused public alarm across China, including in Taiwan, in recent years

Some reports suggest food products tainted with the dirty cooking oil have reached Hong Kong and Macau.

Taiwan's Ministry of Justice (MOJ) said the case first came to light in November 2013 and started with complaints about the operations of an underground factory in Pingtung district.

The MOJ said the factory and its distribution network had been under investigation since then.

Taiwan's premier Jiang Yi-huah said a special task force created on Friday in response to the food scandal would now handle the case.

Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo said that selling tainted lard as cooking oil was a violation of food safety laws and that any tainted foods should be removed from store shelves immediately.

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