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December 12, 2013

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Cooks jailed, new efforts to monitor swill oil

Three cooks who used waste oil for cooking at a popular chain restaurant were fined and sentenced to jail, Jing’an District People’s Court said yesterday.

The three, who worked for the Xingfu 131 chain restaurant that specializes in Sichuan cuisine, were caught cooking in waste oil collected from the leftover plates during a police raid on August 7 at their restaurant in Jing’an District.

The head cook was sentenced to two years in jail and fined 2,000 yuan while the other two were given a year each and were fined 1,000 yuan.

Xingfu 131 outlets in other districts were also raided and most of them were found using waste oil. The chain restaurant was shut down by police.

Meanwhile, authorities said the process of swill oil collection and transportation will be electronically monitored from next year to prevent the used oil from being sold to illegal dealers and finding its way back to the restaurant table.

Currently, it is being tried out as a pilot scheme at some 1,000 eateries in Minhang and Songjiang districts, officials from Shanghai Food Safety Office said yesterday.

The trial run is expected to be completed early next year and will be eventually introduced at all restaurants and food processing plants producing swill oil in the second half of 2014.

Currently, Shanghai has nearly 60,000 licensed eateries.

In the pilot scheme, each restaurant is given an intelligent card, while every licensed swill oil collection company have installed card reading machine on their vehicles. The machine reads the card while receiving oil and inputs all the details — vehicle plate number, time, collection quantity, the name of restaurant and the collector on the spot.

All the information is sent to a terminal that is monitored by the district- and city-based government authorities.

The vehicle is also installed with global positioning system to keep a track of the route.

“Based on this system, each transaction and transportation of swill oil can be checked and traced,” said Yan Zuqiang, director of Shanghai Food Safety Office.

Officials also encouraged local residents and eatery staff to call the city’s food safety hotline 12331 to report illegal swill oil collection and all food-related complaints or cases.

Since the hotline was inaugurated in March, 2012, it has received 62,352 complaints, tips and consultation. A correct tip-off can win the tipsters anywhere between 500 (US$80.65) to 200,000 yuan in cash prize.

“There are over 300 people who have been rewarded this year. The 200,000 yuan reward has been given to a tipster who reported on a big health tonic scam,” Yan said.

It involved a chemical plant illegally producing health tonics in an industrial zone. The tipster offered a very detailed evidence that helped the authorities to crack down the case.


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