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November 29, 2012

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Community helps breakfast stalls stop overuse of oil, sales of swill

A COMMUNITY in Yangpu District became the first in the city to collect used oil from breakfast stalls to prevent the reuse of overcooked oil and the illegal resale of recycled waste oil to low-end eateries.

As an incentive for stall owners, the Changbai neighborhood committee exchanges new cooking oil for used oil of same amount at a very low price -- 1.40 yuan (23 US cents) per kilogram, compared with the normal price of about 12 yuan per kilogram. The committee also allows stall owners to buy cooking oil at wholesale prices.

If the trial in Changbai runs smoothly, the practice will be extended across Yangpu District and then all over the city, Li Wei of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Industry Association said yesterday.

"Fried food is popular for breakfast in Shanghai and stall owners tend to use overcooked oil to cut costs," Li said. Most of the owners of breakfast stalls are migrant laborers, and the rest are the city's laid-off workers.

"Overcooked oil contains benzopyrene, a carcinogenic substance that is harmful to human digestive and respiratory systems," Li said. "Researches also confirmed that the density of benzopyrene in the air could be closely related with the prevalence of lung cancer."

In the practice being tested, breakfast stalls are required to dump used oil in an official container. The oil will be sent to government-designated recyclers. Each stall is required to keep invoices of their cooking oil to prove they didn't buy oil from illegal suppliers, said Zhong Yi, an official at the Changbai neighborhood committee.

To prevent gutter oil from making its way to dining tables, food safety inspectors have required all Shanghai restaurants before year's end to install a device that separates oil from kitchen swill. However, roadside food stalls are not included.


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