Stor­n­away chief out on NT$500,000 bail

Owner makes tear­ful apol­ogy, tea chain will pause op­er­a­tions

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY KATHER­INE WEI

The Taipei Dis­trict Pros­e­cu­tors Of­fice yes­ter­day sum­moned the owner of the popular bev­er­age chain Stor­n­away as a de­fen­dant in the case over the tea chain’s use of tainted tea leaves, be­fore re­leas­ing Chen Yu-huei ( ) on NT$500,000 bail.

The bev­er­age chain was busted re­cently for us­ing tea leaves and rose pe­tals con­tain­ing pes­ti­cide residue.

A con­sumer bought a “Rose Petal Ice Tea” from a Miaoli branch in March this year. Af­ter con­sum­ing the tea, the woman re­port­edly de­vel­oped symptoms in­clud­ing dizzi­ness and weak­ness in her limbs.

The woman re­port­edly as­sumed that she had caught the flu, and de­cided to pur­chase the same bev­er­age the next day. Af­ter de­vel­op­ing the same symptoms, she re­ported the prob­lem to the lo­cal health bureau in Miaoli.

Of­fi­cials later took away sam­ples for fur­ther testing, and found that the dried roses con­tained 13 kinds of pes­ti­cide residue, in­clud­ing four kinds of DDT: dichlorodiphenyldichloroethy­lene ( DDE), car­ben­dazim, dimethoate and cyper­me­thrin.

Af­ter the rose petal in­ci­dent, the chain re­ported its find­ings to the gov­ern­ment yes­ter­day. It dis­cov­ered traces of pes­ti­cide in its Earl Grey, Cey­lon and Dar­jeel­ing tea leaves; the tea leaves were later con­fis­cated by the Taipei and Tainan city health de­part­ments.

Stor­n­away said the tea leaves and rose pe­tals were pur­chased from the Taipei-based Chou Chieh En­ter­prise ( ), which was searched by the Taipei Dis­trict Pros­e­cu­tors Of­fice last week.

A sec­ond in­ter­ro­ga­tion fol­lowed this week, and Chou Chieh owner Tseng Mu-sheng ( ) and sales manager Hsu Wei-shu ( ) were re­leased on bail of NT$200,000 and NT$150,000, re­spec­tively.

Chen was sum­moned as a wit­ness for ques­tion­ing on Mon­day to con­firm the source of the tea leaves. She was re­leased the same day.

Chen and Hsu were ques­tioned again yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, and re­mained si­lent when the me­dia asked if they would be apol­o­giz­ing to con­sumers, and whether they would be com­pen­sat­ing fran­chises.

Tseng was re­leased on an ad­di­tional bail of NT$300,000 yes- ter­day, while Chen was listed as a de­fen­dant due her sub­stan­dard man­age­rial prac­tices.

Chen Sheds Tears Over

Pes­ti­cide Scan­dal

All Stor­n­away stores were or­dered to close af­ter the Tainan Depart­ment of Health con­firmed on Tues­day that the three types of tea leaves con­tained pes­ti­cide residue.

Chen was seen cry­ing as she ap­peared be­fore me­dia yes­ter­day and is­sued a for­mal apol­ogy to her cus­tomers and fran­chise own­ers, promis­ing that the com­pany would be find­ing the best way to com­pen­sate. She read her state­ment from a piece of pa­per, and had to pause, strug­gling to talk through her tears.

“Be­cause of the rose petal in­ci­dent, the com­pany will be thor­oughly in­spect­ing the goods pur­chased. The tea leaves we sent out for eval­u­a­tion in April were found to con­tain more fipronil than al­lowed, so we de­cided to take the ini­tia­tive and re­port the case to the Tainan Depart­ment of Health. We are paus­ing op­er­a­tions at our stores un­til the prod­ucts pass fu­ture ex­am­i­na­tions,” said Chen.

Ac­cord­ing to the Taichung Depart­ment of Health, an­other three va­ri­eties of tea were found to con­tain pes­ti­cide as well: jas­mine green tea, oo­long green tea and As­sam black tea. The source was re­vealed to be Da-tung Tea House ( ).

The tea house claimed that it had only been pro­vid­ing tea to Stor­n­away since 2012, a state­ment that will be in­ves­ti­gated by the Taichung Depart­ment of Health. “Should the tea house con­tinue sell­ing its tea, it will be pun­ished,” said depart­ment of­fi­cials.

The Taichung Depart­ment of Health re­ported yes­ter­day that it has con­fis­cated a to­tal of 302 kilo­grams of tainted tea, which are to be tested as well.

Da-tung’s sup­pli­ers were a tea com­pany in Kaoh­si­ung, and an­other in Taoyuan. Since Da-tung claimed that it was only in charge of pack­ag­ing the tea, the two sup­pli­ers will be probed as well, said the Taichung Depart­ment of Health.

Should Stor­n­away or re­lated tea com­pa­nies in Taichung con­tinue sell­ing sus­pi­cious prod­ucts, they may be fined from NT$30,000 to NT$3 mil­lion.

If the pes­ti­cide amount con­tained in the teas is found to be too high, the com­pa­nies may face fines rang­ing from NT$60,000 to NT$200 mil­lion. The own­ers may even face seven years be­hind bars or an NT$80 mil­lion fine ac­cord­ing to the sever­ity of the case.

The con­fis­cated teas — all six tainted types — have now reached 1,628.7 kilo­grams in vol­ume.

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