Gutter Oil Found in Chinese Government Cafeterias

November 20, 2011 9:27 pm Last Updated: November 20, 2011 9:27 pm
Police inspect illegal cooking oil, better known as 'drainage oil' seized during a crackdown in Beijing on Aug. 2, 2010, after reports said up to one-tenth of Chinese supplies were illegally made and contained cancer-causing agents. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A recent videoconference hosted by the Public Security Bureau of Guangdong Province revealed that gutter oil, which Chinese define as cooking oil recycled from drains, sewers, and restaurant waste, has been found in the cafeterias of the Shenzhen City government.

Mr. Lang, a Shenzhen resident, said: “More and more illegal gutter oil recycling facilities have appeared in recent years. The government has been turning a blind eye to the issue. Gutter oil is very likely used in your food if you don’t pay close attention.”

He added that there are a lot of illegal companies in Shenzhen whose only business is collecting waste cooking oil from the vast number of restaurants across the city. They pay the restaurants a small amount of money and then collude with the illegal refineries to refine it, and finally they sell it back to the restaurants through another channel. Consumers are the ultimate victims, he said.

The discussion during the videoconference indicates that the authorities’ campaign against the gutter oil business has been far from successful. China’s Ministry of Public Security said the total production capacity of the gutter oil producers who have been discovered and prosecuted by the authorities was hardly one tenth of the market as estimated by experts.

This indicates how rampantly gutter oil has penetrated China’s cooking oil market. In a major case exposed recently at the Futian District of Shenzhen City, twenty tons of semi-processed gutter oil was seized.

While the presence of gutter oil on the dining tables of everyday citizens’ homes and restaurants is nothing new to Chinese, its presence in government cafeterias is new. Chinese media used terms such as “unexpected” and “shocking” to describe it. Yet some netizens scoffed at these reports.

One wrote: “The officials deserve all of this. Probably this is the only way to attract the government’s attention so that they will finally take care of the gutter oil problem.”

Read the original Chinese article.