Taiwan recalls tainted dried tofu in fresh food scare

Local vendors from traditional markets display protest signs to boycott the Wei Chuan Foods Corp, which was caught up in a food scandal, in New Taipei City on Oct 14, 2014. In yet another food scandal in the territory, Taiwanese authorities have orde
Local vendors from traditional markets display protest signs to boycott the Wei Chuan Foods Corp, which was caught up in a food scandal, in New Taipei City on Oct 14, 2014. In yet another food scandal in the territory, Taiwanese authorities have ordered more than two tonnes of dried tofu taken off the shelves over fears it may contain a banned industrial dye. -- PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwanese authorities ordered more than two tonnes of tofu be removed from shelves Wednesday over fears it could contain a banned industrial dye, in the island's latest food scandal.

Almost 40 types of flavoured dried tofu involving 10 different companies are suspected to have become contaminated with dimethyl yellow, which is linked to cancer in animals, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The administration ordered any manufacturer that used ingredients supplied by the Chien Hsin company that they suspect of being contaminated to recall their products by Saturday or risk a maximum fine of NT$200 million (S$8 million).

Chien Hsin is accused of selling soybean emulsifiers that were adulterated with the industrial dye, which is banned from food products, to at least 44 manufacturers.

Taiwan is reeling from a string of food safety scandals this year, which triggered public outrage that observers said contributed to the ruling party's massive defeat in last month's local elections.

Hundreds of tonnes of products made with "gutter oil" were recalled in a food safety scandal that surfaced in September. The scandal brought down the island's health minister.

That was followed by a mass recall one month later when Taiwanese food giant Ting Hsin group was accused of selling oil intended for animal food.

Wei Ying-chung, a former Ting Hsin executive and one of Taiwan's richest men, was taken into custody during the government investigation into the scandal and was later given nearly 140 fraud charges over his alleged role in the case.

He faces a 30-year-jail term if convicted.