Taiwan takes aim at fake, adulterated cooking oils

Olive oilThe authorities in Taiwan are clamping down on counterfeit and mislabeled cooking oils after coming across several cases in recent months.

The presence of illegal oils on the market came into the spotlight a few days ago when domestic producers Flavor Full Foods and Chang Chi Foodstuff were found to be selling adulterated products.

Both companies were found to be selling various edible oils mixed with cottonseed oil - a cheaper ingredient that can be risky to health unless toxic compounds such as gossypol are removed during processing - and passing them off as more expensive oils such as olive, peanut and chilli oils by adding unlabelled flavourings. 

Thankfully, none of the adulterated products were found to contain gossypol on testing, but Taiwan is now testing dozens of other cooking oil products to make sure products on the market are safe and being sold legally. Local news reports suggest other products including soy sauce are also coming under scrutiny.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare published a statement today (October 27) indicating that the counterfeit oils - which include products sold as olive oil that are not made from olives - must be destroyed, while mislabeled oils may be returned to the shelves provided their labels are corrected.

The announcement also indicates that any products found to contain a colouring agent called copper chlorophyllin must also be destroyed. At the moment it is unclear whether either company's products were found to contain the additive, the use of which is prohibited in Taiwan.

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