By Feng Jianmin | 2012-9-3 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
AUTHORITIES have stepped up measures against gutter oil after more pharmaceutical firms and forage makers were found to have used the waste material.
Qilu Pharmaceutical Co, Charoen Pokphand Group, and two Shenzhen-listed forage makers, Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group and Tangrenshen Group Co, were among the latest companies found to have purchased gutter oil to replace soy oil in their production processes.
The companies were identified after Henan-based Huikang Grease Co stood trial last Thursday for processing and selling gutter oil - also known as swill oil - oil ladled from drains near restaurants.
Of the more than 30,000 tons of gutter oil processed by Huikang Grease in 2010 and 2011, 16,200 tons were sold to Jiaozuo Joincare Biological Product Co for 145 million yuan (US$22.9 million), 13,700 tons went to various forage makers for 167 million yuan, and another 160 tons were bought by food producers, the 21st Century Herald reported, citing court documents.
Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group and several subsidiaries of Charoen Pokphand Group used to be major clients of Huikang Grease, the report said.
Meanwhile, a dozen drug makers, including some subsidiaries of Qilu Pharmaceutical, also bought the oil from Huikang Grease, a local newspaper in Qingdao City reported yesterday.
Like Jiaozuo Joincare Biological Product Co, Qilu Pharmaceutical may have used the gutter oil to nurture colonies during the production of certain types of antibiotic, the report said.
That violated Chinese laws that drug makers must use cooking oil to nurture the colonies.
The State Food and Drug Administration has told the country's pharmaceutical firms to carefully scrutinize their sources to prevent such ingredients being used in medicine, according to Xinhua news agency.
The drug watchdog said it had arranged for experts to evaluate the risks of using gutter oil in production of antibiotics, which could contain residue of the waste oil.
The Jiaozuo City government has sent four inspection teams to Joincare Biological, a leading health care product maker in China and a subsidiary of the listed Joincare Pharmaceutical Group Co, to examine the consequences of using gutter oil.
The government said a "preliminary" conclusion will be released soon, without giving details.
Gutter oil has been at the center of a spate of food safety scandals in China after it was found to be illegally reused by restaurants or bottled for sale.
China has no laws that explicitly ban the use of gutter oil as an additive in animal feed, while both Shandong and Heilongjiang provinces have drawn up local rules against such a use.