Food scandals aren’t exactly a joy to read about, but at least we normally learn which specific brand or restaurant or street to avoid going forward.
The latest nauseating crime to strike Guangzhou is a bit different: we have virtually no way of knowing which restaurants or products have been affected. All we can do is lay off anything made with lard for a while until those guilty of turning rotting pig fat into oil “are forced to drink every last drop of their disgusting product until they learn to change,” as one particularly disgruntled Tencent News commenter put it.
The factory in question was discovered in Zengcheng District this past week on an otherwise picturesque mountain road beside plenty of "fish ponds and backyard dogs." The location was allegedly chosen for its naturally private surroundings, which helped conceal the illegal production line – until recently.
Journalists from the Guangdong Public DV Scene were tipped off by a woman surnamed Wang, who apparently told them the refinery was boiling “dead, stinking pigs” to extract oil and then packaging the oil immediately and shipping it off to other warehouses, possibly to be used in cooking.
“They must make at least one ton [of oil] a day,” Ms. Wang is quoted as saying.
When journalists arrived to the site earlier this week, they found a male worker taking bags of fetid meat and dumping them into a tub of boiling liquid. A layer of white foam was visible on top, while charred chunks of black meat occasionally surfaced. According to the report, the stench rising from the pot was even worse than that of the pig carcasses themselves.
Ms. Wang told journalists that even if the oil is being used for industrial purposes and not human consumption, the factory should still be held to higher standards of operation. “There is nothing here," she said. “It's just a rotten old shed.”
This past Tuesday, July 11, members of the Zengcheng District Food and Drug Administration and local police visited the site at the reporters’ request. They arrived to find the production process in full swing, and arrested each of the workers on the scene within minutes.
Though the case is still under investigation, the police report confirms the refinery had no license.
Perhaps the most troubling thing about this incident, however, is the fact that it may not be an anomaly.
“Our village also has this kind of factory,” one netizen commented. “The stench is so bad that we can’t open our windows at night... people have tried to report it but haven’t been successful.”
If this is indeed a common concern, we just hope the recent scandal in Zengcheng will alert authorities to the issue – if only so we can enjoy our next lard-infused hot pot with peace of mind.
[Images via Tencent News]