by Michael Ravensthorpe
(NaturalNews) According to a short documentary produced by Radio Free Asia entitled “The Making of ‘Gutter Oil,'” the use of so-called “gutter oil” – illegal oil made from processed sewage and other waste matter – is rampant among China’s food establishments. In fact, the narrator admits that an estimated 10 percent of China’s cooking oil could be gutter oil purchased from the black market.
The documentary, which can be viewed here, begins with stomach-churning footage of a Chinese woman scooping waste from a city sewer into a container – a job she’s held for over a decade. Delighted with the yield, she and her male colleague carry the waste-filled container into their car. The waste is then transported to local processing plants where it is transformed into “cooking” oil with the aid of additives such as animal fat and bleach. Finally, the oil is transported to corrupt food establishments across the country and served to thousands of unsuspecting Chinese every week. Though most of it ends up in street food, it has also been found in restaurants, construction site kitchens, work canteens and even school cafeterias.
Gutter oil is highly toxic
Unsurprisingly, tests have confirmed that gutter oil contains numerous toxic chemicals including aflatoxins (carcinogenic compounds produced by certain molds) and PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, a dangerous organic pollutant). Many of these compounds have been linked to serious diseases such as liver and stomach cancer, as well as developmental disabilities in newborn children.
More worrying still, gutter oil is indistinguishable from cooking oil in appearance and taste. As Feng Ping of the China Meat Research Center admits, “The illegal oil shows no difference in appearance and indicators after refining and purification because the law breakers are skillful at coping with the established standards.”
An ongoing problem
Unfortunately, gutter oil is not a new phenomenon in China. Back in 2011, Time Magazine reported that Chinese officials had commenced a six-month investigation into gutter oil that resulted in the arrest of 32 suspects and the seizure of 100 tons of illegal oil that they believed were being processed for resale. One year later, another crackdown occurred that resulted in 100 arrests and the closing of 13 processing plants across four provinces.
Despite these sporadic crackdowns, however, all evidence suggests that the gutter oil industry continues to thrive in the biggest Chinese cities due to its immense profit-making capacities. While there’s not much we can do about this national health issue from our Western vantage point, we can let China know what we think about its continued disregard for human life by boycotting its products.
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About the author:
Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world’s healthiest foods