Monday, 27 February 2012

Death penalty for selling ‘gutter oil’

China cracks down on production, sale and use of tainted recycled oil in cooking

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Guanyu 道 said...

Death penalty for selling ‘gutter oil’

China cracks down on production, sale and use of tainted recycled oil in cooking

26 February 2012

Beijing - People who sell or use unsafe recycled cooking oil could face the death penalty, said China’s highest court, in the country’s latest bid to crack down on the rampant practice.

A notice issued jointly by the Supreme People’s Court and two other state agencies said the authorities would intensify the crackdown on the production, sale and use of ‘gutter oil’.

Under the new sentencing guidelines, judicial authorities are instructed to consider the severity of the harm done when considering punishment.

The death penalty may be considered in cases that cause massive harm or where the ‘response of the masses is intense’, said the notice.

Sellers who suspected that gutter oil had been used but continue to sell the tainted food could face the life sentence, the notice issued on Thursday said.

Harsh punishment should also be meted out to officials who fail to stop the spread of gutter oil, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported, citing the notice.

Gutter oil, or old kitchen oil that has been dredged from gutters and sold for cooking, can contain carcinogens and other toxins that are harmful when consumed. Experts say it can cause gastric cancer and intestinal cancer.

Since last August, 135 gutter oil crime cases have been solved and nearly 800 criminals caught across the country. Twelve government officials have been fired for negligence, reported Xinhua news agency.

More than 100 underground factories producing the gutter oil were smashed by police, figures given by the Ministry of Public Security have shown.

In one case, two people were jailed for 10 years for producing and selling more than 110 tonnes of gutter oil.

Researchers are looking into ways to differentiate gutter oil from normal cooking oil, but have yet to find a method to detect old cooking oil made from recycled restaurant leftovers.

‘Besides the detection methods, the key to curbing the spread of gutter oil is greater cooperation and supervision by government departments at all times over the oil production chain,’ professor of public health Li Shuguang from Fudan University told the Global Times.

The crackdown on the use of gutter oil is part of a broader effort to improve China’s food safety.

Past scandals include melamine-tainted infant formula, pesticide-tainted vegetables, eggs coloured with industrial dye and fake liquor that can cause blindness or death.