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Tests for gutter oil prove to be a failure

(China Daily)

08:43, October 14, 2011

Officers with the border defense detachment in Nantong, East China's Jiangsu province, show local residents on Sept 28 how to identify gutter oil. Zhang Shanyu / for China Daily

BEIJING - A National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment was established by the Ministry of Health and several central departments in Beijing on Thursday in the latest move to ensure food safety.

Meanwhile, the country's health and food safety watchdogs are continuing to seek an effective way to distinguish "gutter oil" from normal cooking oil, as none of the methods tried so far have proved satisfactory.

Illegally recycled cooking oil, or gutter oil as it is popularly known, is usually scooped up from the gutters and sewers behind cooking establishments, then clarified and resold to restaurants, but it can also be oil refined from low-quality pork, animal offal, and oil overused for fried food in a broader sense.

"The five detection methods proposed so far don't work in identifying the illegal oil and the authorities are still organizing experts to carry out research," Deng Haihua, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said on Wednesday.

The ministry announced on Sept 18 that it was initiating a project with six central departments to develop better testing methods for gutter oil, and an expert panel was established to examine and verify the proposed methods.

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