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February 25, 2012

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Filter machines for all eateries in bid to end swill oil

ALL Shanghai restaurants must have oil-filtering machines installed in their kitchens by the end of the year, as the city attempts to eliminate the illegal "swill oil" trade.

Swill oil is produced from oil collected from drains and kitchens and resold for culinary use.

The filtering machines remove water and other residue from kitchen and meal waste. Water goes down the drain, while oil is collected by government-licensed companies to recycle for industrial use.

About 500 of the city's 60,000 licensed eateries have completed installation and are using the filters on a trial basis, said the local food safety watchdog yesterday.

Licensed eateries cover everything from top-end restaurants through to work canteens and fast-food chains.

The cost of the machines for eateries taking part in the trial has been met by oil-recycling companies.

It has not yet been announced who will pay for the machines when the initiative is rolled out for all restaurants.

"The trial has proved successful and now we are turning it into a mandatory business rule," said Yan Zuqiang, director with the Shanghai Food Safety Office.

He said medium and large establishments are required to be using oil-filtering systems by June, while smaller eateries should complete installation by the end of the year.

"And applications to open restaurants will not be passed unless this is fitted," said Yan.

Currently, filtering systems are provided by oil-collecting companies. In return, restaurants give them collected oil.

Yan said the local government plans a scheme under which restaurants would receive fresh oil in exchange for waste oil.

"In future, restaurants will get fresh oil from recycling companies in return for the used oil. We are working out what a reasonable ratio would be," Yan said.

"Using oil-filtering machines is the best solution we've found to eliminate sources of swill oil," Yan added.

Without the devices, it is easy for kitchens to dump waste oil in gutters or sell it to underground dealers. Swill oil dealers ladle oil from drains and buy leftover supplies from restaurants.

"Restaurants that cheat and avoid processing their waste oil using the machine will be fined heavily," Yan said.

Meanwhile, local food authorities also said they are creating an online traceability system covering rice and grain sold locally.

Consumers will be able to use this to trace production details of these foods.


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