China launches high-level probe after paper says fuel tankers used to carry cooking oil

State broadcaster CCTV reported on Tuesday that the State Council, China’s cabinet, had set up an investigative team involving several government bodies to tackle the matter.

Planning body the National Development and Reform Commission, the ministries of public security and transport, the state administrations of market regulation and grain and reserves, and other departments will be part of the team.

Several cooking oil companies – including two named in the Beijing News report – have also launched their own investigations.

A subsidiary of state stockpiler Sinograin, and another major player, the Hopefull Grain and Oil Group, were named in the report. Neither company has confirmed or denied the allegations.

In a response posted on Weibo on Saturday, Sinograin said that it had ordered a subsidiary to carry out an investigation and also kicked off a comprehensive probe among affiliated companies.

It also pledged to immediately terminate cooperation with and blacklist any transport companies and vehicles found to have violated regulations.

Any major issues discovered would be reported to regulators, the company said, while promising to discipline affiliated companies and employees found to have violated the rules.

An employee of Hopefull Grain and Oil told The Beijing News on Monday that the company had cooperated with the regulatory authorities in their investigation, which had since been concluded, with further updates to follow after an official announcement.

But the member of staff also said that the company did not own any tanker trucks, and the transport vehicles belonged to its clients.

Founded in 1999, Hopefull Grain and Oil is a market leader with plants in the provinces of Hebei, Jiangsu and Liaoning, and a total processing capacity of 10 million tonnes.

Several other brands have denied that they were involved in the malpractice, with some launching their own investigations, according to media reports.

Hainan Jingliang Holdings, a producer and seller of cooking oils, said in a statement that it had carried out internal inspections and confirmed that its subsidiaries complied with food safety regulations.

Yihai Kerry Arawana Holdings, a company known for its cooking oil brand Jinlongyu, told Shanghai-based media outlet The Paper that it had strict supervisory measures in place, and all transport processes followed regulations, asserting that “this incident has not affected us”.

State media also weighed in this week, criticising practices that undermine food safety regulations and calling for a thorough investigation.

CCTV earlier said the issue showed “extreme disregard” for consumer health.

“Usually, as long as we do not seek cheap options and choose big brands, select reputable manufacturers, we can avoid low-quality edible oils. But even major brands can have loopholes in the transport process … this obviously exceeds the understanding of most people,” it said on its official WeChat account on Monday.


Leftover oil from hotpot dishes in China reused to fuel planes

Leftover oil from hotpot dishes in China reused to fuel planes

Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily has also called for a “thorough investigation and rectification”.

“To ensure food safety, we must consistently adhere to the strictest standards, the most rigorous oversight, and the most severe penalties,” it said in a commentary.

China’s top corruption watchdog on Monday published a series of reports on inspections made last year, including at Sinograin. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection report did not mention any problems related to Sinograin’s goods transport process.

It is not the first time that Chinese media have reported issues with transporting cooking oil.

Similar practices were reportedly discovered in the southern city of Nanning in 2005, while a 2015 news report revealed problems with vehicles transporting goods between Hunan and Guangdong provinces.


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