Food safety authorities in south China’s Guangdong Province said Tuesday that they have raided two plants producing illegal cooking oil, or “gutter oil”, after receiving tips from the general public.
The illegal oil, which is one of several illicit products currently being cracked down upon by the Chinese government, is made from leftover oil which is dredged from gutters behind restaurants. The oil is collected, processed and resold to other restaurants. Although it is clean in appearance, it often contains toxic substances.
The two plants, located in the city of Dongguan, were raided on Monday, according to an official with the city’s food and drug administration. However, police are still looking for the plants’ managers, the official said.
A report in Tuesday’s Guangzhou Daily newspaper stated that sanitary napkins, plastic bags and other refuse had been spotted in one of the plants’ oil containers.
He Yong, a worker at one of the plants who was severely burned after falling into an oil cooking vat last month, said that the oil was put into barrels and shipped to wholesale markets in Dongguan and the neighboring city of Shenzhen, according to the report.
He said that the low price of “gutter oil” leads many restaurants, both big and small, to buy the oil from the wholesale markets.
Law enforcement officers destroyed production facilities at the plants on Monday to prevent them from being used again, according to the report.