REUTERS

Some street food vendors are still using cooking oil made from garbage. 

A video shot and released earlier this year by Radio Free Asia is making the rounds online today. The short documentary details the illegal production and sale of so-called "gutter oil," a cooking oil made from restaurant sewer refuse and rotten animal fat that is refined and then sold, mostly to small restaurants and street food vendors. It's part of a food safety crisis in China that The Atlantic covered last year. 

While "gutter oil" is technically illegal in China, the government hasn't been able to eradicate the practice. Last year, another report came out on an oil being made from slaughter house scraps. 

Radio Free Asia's footage, which features a woman nonchalantly scooping "glop" out of a manhole in broad daylight, suggests that at least in some areas, there's little risk of getting caught.

The top video is part of Radio Free Asia's "Poisoned at the Source" series about food production issues in China, specifically Guangdong Province. If learning about gutter oil doesn't ruin your day, you can also watch mini documentaries about illegal slaughter tents that spring up overnight and disappear before the sun rises, agricultural fields fertilized with human garbage ("including used batters and toxic waste"), and scam artists who sell fake soy milk. 

Top image: Local residents wait in a line to buy cooking oil in southwest China's Chongqing municipality. (REUTERS)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Protestors hold a sign that reads "Respect Democracy Our Vote Matters"
    Equity

    The Conservative Backlash Against Progressive Ballot Measures

    In many states, ballot initiatives on expanding Medicaid, limiting gerrymandering, and raising the minimum wage swept to victory in November. Now lawmakers are doing their best to reverse them.

  2. Equity

    The FBI's Forgotten War on Black-Owned Bookstores

    At the height of the Black Power movement, the Bureau focused on the unlikeliest of public enemies: black independent booksellers.

  3. Transportation

    With Trains Like Schwebebahn, No Wonder Germans Love Public Transit

    Infrastructure like this makes it clear why Germany continues to produce enthusiasm for public transit, generation after generation.

  4. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  5. a photo of people sunbathing on a hot summer day in Central Park in New York City
    Environment

    The New York City of 2080 Will Be as Hot as Arkansas

    A new study finds the climate “twin city” for hundreds of places across the United States.