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China Reels from the Chemical Tank Transport Scandal Including Cooking Oil

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Exposed: China’s Most Recent Food Scandal
A huge food scandal involving the transportation of cooking oil in dirty chemical tanks has impacted China. Tank trucks were delivering chemicals and food oil interchangeably without cleaning the interiors, according to an investigation by the state media outlet Beijing News. This discovery infuriated the people and prompted demands for further inquiries.

Exposure of a Decade-Old Practice
The issue started when a shocking article by Beijing News on July 2 revealed several cases of edible cooking oil being carried by tank trucks right after they delivered chemicals for coal-to-liquid processing. Han Futao, the report’s author, claims that not a single tank was cleaned in between loads. In Hebei province, Han reported one instance when a truck delivered chemicals in Qinhuangdao then, a few days later, filled up with soy oil in Sanhe.

Measures to Reduce Costs and Industry “Open Secret”
Beijing News was informed by truck drivers that this was a common, money-saving tactic used by organizations with thousands of vehicles. Known as a “open secret” in the business, drivers acknowledged that, in some seasons, they would supply culinary oils after conveying industrial wastes. The chemicals in question were not categorized as dangerous or flammable, which would have necessitated the use of special transport tanks in accordance with Chinese regulations.

Public Distress and Regulatory Violations
China’s social media platforms were rocked by the story, causing users to fill Weibo—China’s equivalent of X—with angry comments. National regulations that suggest, but do not require, specific tank trucks for culinary materials have drawn a lot of criticism. “Shouldn’t a kerosene can be a kerosene can and a cooking-oil can be a cooking-oil can?” was one of the top comments on Weibo. They aren’t always so clean, even after cleaning.”

Users brought to light local news reports from 2005 about the mixing of edible oils with dangerous chemicals during transportation, as well as regulatory alerts from 2013 concerning the practice in Hunan province. This exacerbated the outrage.

Responses from the government and media
People’s Daily was among the state media outlets who denounced the practice after the Beijing News story. “If this is a ‘open secret in the industry,’ where does it put the public’s health and life safety?” asked columnist Zhang Jingshan. Where does it place the rule of law’s fairness and dignity?”

An inquiry into the combined usage of tank trucks was announced by Sinograin, a governmental organization in charge of managing China’s grain and oil reserves. But this declaration was greeted with calls for a more extensive probe involving higher authorities. “Checking your own unit is like covering your ears while stealing a bell,” one blogger said. The appropriate departments need to take note of this. Food is a vital component of people’s lives and should not be taken for granted.”

Persistent Concerns about Food Safety
This incident adds to China’s long history of food safety problems, which also includes incidents involving gutter oil and harmful substances in infant formula. The national government launched a drive to improve food safety in the nation as a result of the ongoing scandals that have damaged public confidence in foods that are sold commercially.

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