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February 5, 2013

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Hotpot restaurant owner, nephew admit to using oil from soup waste

THE owner of a local hotpot restaurant is on trial for using recycled oil from waste hotpot soups, the Huangpu District People's Court heard yesterday.

Zheng Pin, 38, the owner of Fula Hotpot Restaurant in downtown Yandang Road, and her nephew, who is a cook, are both in the dock for reprocessing oil from used hotpot soups.

According to the indictment, Zheng ordered her waiters to put all the wastes and soups into plastic buckets.

She filtered out the solid wastes and collected the soup into stainless buckets. It was then transported to Dingla Hotpot Restaurant, run by Zheng's husband, on Jinling Road E.

It was in this restaurant that the nephew filtered the used oil from the soups between June and July last year, the court heard.

The prosecutors said Zheng sent about 15 kilograms of soup every two days.

Her nephew would filter the waste soups again and boil the liquid to extract the oil out of it. He made new soups by mixing the used oil with spice, peppers, chilies and seasonings, the court heard.

The new soups were then sent back to Fula Hotpot Restaurant to serve unsuspecting customers.

Zheng told the court she learnt to recycle oil from a cook in southwest China's Chongqing City, known for its chili hotpots.

"The cook said it was a common practice in the hotpot industry because the soup tasted better," Zheng said.

She said her restaurant was not doing good business and wanted to make the soup tastier to attract customers. She did admit that it also helped in cutting down costs.

The restaurant was closed on July 12 after the Huangpu District Food and Drug Administration was tipped off.

Both Zheng and her nephew surrendered to the police on July 15. Zheng's husband was not charged because of lack of evidence that he was aware of the illegal going-ons in his restaurant.

Zheng and his nephew have pleaded guilty after seeing a video of their activity. The court did not announce a verdict.

Under the Chinese Criminal Law, those who produce and sell harmful and poisonous food could face a jail term of up to five years with fines.


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