The Thai Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) and the Central Investigation Bureau have raided an illegal meatball producing factory in the Khlong Luang district of Pathum Thani Province. The factory is alleged to have been distributing substandard meatballs to over 40 outlets in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces for about two years.

The raid of the unlicensed factory, located in an old warehouse in Khlong Luang, was carried out on Thursday by TFDA officials and consumer protection police. They found more than 30 bags of raw pork and chicken, about 12kg of the sodium benzoate preservative and many meatballs in the compound.

Officials said that the factory is not legally registered, does not have the required licenses from the TFDA and the provincial administration and the production process does not meet Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, with the use of borax and sodium benzoate.

Specimens of the factory’s products were sent to the Medical Sciences Department for testing, to determine the amount of borax, preservatives and bacteria they contain.

A man, identified only as “Samrith”, who claimed to be the factory owner, told the officials that his pork meatball product, with the brand name of “Ja Ae”, was not entirely made of pork, but also contains chicken, which is cheaper than pork.

He claimed that he has delivered from 300-800kg of meatballs a day to over 41 outlets in Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan provinces in the past two years.

Officials checked the customer list and found the name of one international school in Pathum Thani, which received 65kg of meatballs on Wednesday. They alerted the school administrators and recommended that they get rid of the product.

The factory owner faces a charge of producing “fake food”, which carries a penalty of six months to ten years in prison and/or a fine of 5,000-100,000 baht if convicted.

He also faces charges of operating a food factory which does not comply with GMP standards, which carries a fine of 10,000 baht on conviction, and of improperly labelling a product, which carries a fine not exceeding 30,000 baht.

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