A court has reportedly sentenced the head of a Taiwanese company to 20 years in jail for his role at the centre of a “gutter oil” scandal that gripped the island’s food industry and brought down a minister.
Yeh Wen-hsiang, chairman of Chang Guann Co, was also fined Tw$50 million ($1.6 million) for his part in selling on 243 tonnes of tainted oil collected from cookers, fryers, and grease traps, as well as recycled grease from leather processing plants.
Reports say Yeh was first detained in September after the accusations came to light, but was released on bail in October, before being found guilty of safety violations last week. He was however sentenced on Friday.
Authorities said hundreds of tonnes of cakes, bread, instant noodles, cookies, steamed buns and dumplings had to be removed from shelves in Taiwan and Hong Kong when the case surfaced, .
The contaminated fat was mixed with regular lard and distributed to clients in the food industry.
More than 1,000 restaurants, bakeries and food plants in Taiwan had used the tainted oil, according to the Food and Drug Administration, and the resulting outcry led to the resignation of the country’s health minister.
Tsai Chi-chuan, the company’s vice president, was also given a 20-year sentence for food safety violations.
This is according to a statement released by the Pingtung District Court, in the south of the country.
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