TAIPEI -- In a deepening tainted food scandal, a senior Taiwan health official said on Friday that more contaminated cooking oil, or 'gutter oil', has been exported to Hong Kong and Macau than was previously realized.
On Thursday, local authorities revealed that additional Taiwanese oil products had likely been contaminated with lard from Hong Kong meant for animal feed.
The latest statement by Deputy Director-General Chiang Yu-mei of the Food and Drug Administration came as Taiwan's escalating gutter oil scandal continues to spread worldwide.
Over 1,000 Taiwanese restaurants and food retailers have been affected, and packaged food produced with tainted oil has been exported to at least 12 countries around the world, including Australia, France and the U.S.
The scandal began to unfold in early September when local public health watchdogs busted Chang Guann, a Kaohsiung-based oil supplier in southern Taiwan, for mixing oil illicitly recycled from leather factories and food waste into their products.
On Thursday, Taiwanese officials said Chang Guann had also procured lard meant for animal feed from Globalway in Hong Kong in March and May to blend into its cooking oil products. Officials believe 24 Chang Guann products may have been contaminated by the questionable lard.
"Among the 24 possibly tainted products, 12 have been exported to Hong Kong and Macau," Chiang told reporters on Friday. Chiang said 6 importers in Hong Kong and 1 in Macau have procured and sold on the doubtful Chang Guann products.
Hong Kong media reported on Friday afternoon that local police had arrested two men in connection with the exported lard earlier in the day, one being Globalway's chairman. The police were not available for further comment.
Before the lard issue came to light, Hong Kong's renowned confectioner Maxim's Cakes revealed it had used Chang Guann's tainted oil in its pineapple buns, while Macau authorities reported that 21 local bakeries and food retailers had bought products from Chang Guann.