TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Investigation Bureau has recently found that some processed foods advertised as vegetarian contained meat, and it has vowed to refer producers who knowingly added meat to their products for prosecution on fraud charges.
Pu Chang-en, a technician at the bureau's department of forensic science, said yesterday that among samples collected from 31 vegetarian food vendors in Taipei City and County for safety checks, food taken from 17 vendors were found to contain meat. DNA tests revealed that in the two most serious cases, the vegetarian patties and ham of one vendor and vegetarian dried shredded pork from another vendor contained at least 20 percent beef or pork, Pu said.
An investigation targeting the producers of the fraudulent vegetarian processed foods has been launched to find out whether meat was deliberately added to the soybean-based products to enrich their texture and flavor.
Fu explained that it is possible that vegetarian foods showing small traces of meat could have been contaminated by poorly cleaned work tables or cooking equipment in factories that also produce meat products.
Producers found not to have deliberately defrauded consumers would not be subject to prosecution but would receive a warning and be ordered to remove problem products off store shelves, Fu said.