E. coli fears hit TRA lunch boxes


Source: Taipei Times

FAST FOOD:A media report said that of five railway stations, Cidu’s pork chop lunch boxes, and Hualien’s pork chop and also its boar meals had excessive levels of bacteria

By Shelley Shan and Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporters  2017-04-27
 The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) yesterday said that it is to suspend sales of three boxed lunch meals produced by Cidu (七堵) and Hualien railway stations after local media reported that they contained excessive levels of E. coli bacteria.

The railway operator is renowned for its lunch boxes, which earn it about NT$100 million (US$3.3 million) per year.

The lunch boxes are produced at Cidu, Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Hualien railway stations.

An article in the Chinese-language Next Magazine yesterday said that reporters sent lunch boxes from the five stations to laboratories to be tested.

The tests revealed that Cidu station’s pork chop boxed meals, and Hualien station’s pork chop and also its boar lunch boxes had excessive levels of E-coli.

TRA at first questioned the magazine’s results, saying that they might have arisen from how the samples were delivered to the laboratories.

The railway operator said that it would send its own samples to the laboratories and would take any products that failed tests off the shelves.

However at noon yesterday, TRA catering service manager Lee Yung-sheng (李永生) said that the administration would remove the boxed meals in question from shelves immediately after several lawmakers raised food safety concerns.

The administration would only resume selling the meals if they are certified safe to consume, Lee said.

Asked why the administration did not adopt the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) food management system, the administration said that the size of its catering restaurant and the scale of lunch box production were not significant enough to warrant it.

However, with production rising, the administration said that it is now considering adopting HACCP.

In related news, the Taipei Department of Health yesterday said it found six incidences of poor hygiene practice in the TRA’s Taipei kitchen and that it has collected samples for further examination.

The department said it conducted a surprise inspection in the morning on the kitchen, located in the basement of Taipei Railway Station, and collected boxed meals and tested them for for E. coli and total coliform.

The department said the six hygienic problems were a buildup of filthy grease on a rack on its deep-fried food area, a grimy kitchen floor, tins of oil placed on the floor, an unclean kitchen counter and rice cooker, unkempt vegetable baskets and piles of waste left in a drainage ditch.

The company faces a fine of NT$60,000 to NT$200 million if the problems are not solved within a stipulated period and a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$3 million if the food samples fail a bacterial test, it said.

The department said the results of the magazine’s private inspection are not binding, adding that the results of the bacterial tests on the samples it collected yesterday would be released in seven days at the earliest.