By Yining Su
“Image credit: People’s Daily.”
Two restaurants owners in Shanghai received prison sentences of three and a half years, and 200,000 yuan each in fines for reusing cooking oil this week. Two employees also received prison sentences and fines of lesser severity.
According to the Shanghai Daily, Zheng Pin, owner of the Fula Hot Pot restaurant on Yandang Road, and Yu Zhengjiang, owner of Zhengjiang Sichuan Restaurant on Songshan Road, received the three and a half year sentences for reusing cooking oil from leftover dishes.
Two employees were fined 2,000 yuan each, and received prison sentences of one year and fifteen months, respectively.
The news of these sentences came the day after the announcement of new measures to prevent the use of recycled cooking oil, commonly called “gutter oil”, by the city of Shanghai.
According to the href=”http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/764706.shtml”>Global Times and People’s Daily, the maximum fine for improperly disposing of cooking oil has been tripled, and a new system of disposing of used oil will be implemented, in which restaurants will be paid for their used oil.
Under the current system, restaurant owners were required to pay a “waste management” fee to dispose of used oil. Under the new regulation, authorised waste collection companies will buy used cooking oil from restaurants for processing into biodiesel. The price for the oil will be set by three trade organizations representing Shanghai restaurants, food production, and the city’s environmental sanitation administration, to ensure that is it attractive to restaurants.
Officials have said that the new regulation will create “a seamless system” for disposal of used oil, but the People’s Daily have quoted a professor of nutrition and food safety at China Agricultural University who says she has doubts, as the system depends on the profitability of recycling used oil into biodiesel.
Panic over the widespread use of gutter oil reached its peak in fall 2011 and were made worse by the fact that there did not seem to be a reliable method for detecting it.
A reminder of the disgustingness of gutter oil, from a China Daily article from September, 2011:
Gutter oil, or illegally recycled cooking oil, is often scooped up from sewage drains and gutters behind cooking establishments and then sold to small restaurants. More broadly, it also refers to oil refined from low-quality pork and animal offal as well as oil overused for fried food.