Scandal Unveiled: Chinese Tankers Mix Cooking Oil with Industrial Chemicals, Sparking Global Health Concerns

Scandal Unveiled: Chinese Tankers Mix Cooking Oil with Industrial Chemicals, Sparking Global Health Concerns

Sofia Delgado-Cheng
3 min read

Chinese Tankers Mix Cooking Oil with Industrial Chemicals, Sparking Global Health Concerns: Your Favorite Items in Asia Market might be Affected

In a recent investigation, it was revealed that Chinese oil transport vehicles are transporting cooking oil right after carrying industrial oil, without cleaning the tanks. This shocking practice poses a severe public health risk, with potential impacts on favorite items in Asian supermarkets in Europe and America. The scandal came to light when a media outlet discovered that many tankers in China transport both edible liquids like soybean oil and chemical liquids like coal-derived oil. To cut costs, many tankers do not clean their tanks between transports, leading to the contamination of edible oils with industrial residues.

The investigation highlighted instances such as a tanker transporting coal-derived oil to Qinhuangdao in Hebei province, and then loading soybean oil at Huifu Grain and Oil Group without cleaning the tank. Similarly, another tanker carried coal-derived oil from Ningxia to Tianjin, and then loaded 35 tons of soybean oil at Zhongchu Oil and Fats (Tianjin) Co., Ltd. without washing the tank. Tanker drivers admitted that mixing food and chemical liquid transports without cleaning is a common but dangerous practice.

Key Takeaways

  1. Public Health Concern: The contamination of cooking oil with industrial residues poses significant health risks, including potential poisoning and long-term organ damage.
  2. Industry Malpractice: The practice of not cleaning tanks between transporting different types of liquids is widespread in China, leading to severe food safety violations.
  3. Regulatory Response: In response to the scandal, China Grain Reserves Group (Sinograin) has launched an extensive inspection of its oil transportation practices and vowed to terminate contracts with violators.
  4. Market Impact: The scandal has led to temporary removal and subsequent restocking of Sinograin's Jin Ding cooking oil from online platforms like Taobao and


The root cause of this scandal lies in the cost-cutting measures adopted by the transportation industry, combined with inadequate regulatory enforcement. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of strict cleaning protocols for tankers switching between transporting industrial and edible oils. This malpractice is facilitated by the fact that the existing guidelines for bulk edible oil transportation are merely recommendations, not mandatory standards.

The health risks associated with consuming oils contaminated with industrial residues like heavy metals and benzene are severe. Long-term ingestion can lead to chronic health issues, including liver and kidney damage. Despite these dangers, regulatory bodies have historically failed to enforce strict standards and conduct regular inspections, allowing such practices to persist.

The response from companies implicated in the scandal has been mixed. While some companies have denied involvement, others have begun internal audits to ensure compliance with safety standards. The swift action by Sinograin to conduct a thorough inspection and place violators on a blacklist indicates a growing recognition of the need for stricter oversight.

Did You Know?

  • Coal-derived Oil: Coal-derived oil is a chemical product extracted from coal, containing hazardous substances such as heavy metals and benzene. These substances can cause serious health issues if ingested.
  • Historical Precedents: This is not the first time such practices have been reported. Similar scandals have occurred in the past, highlighting a persistent issue in the food transportation sector.
  • International Impact: Products from affected Chinese companies, including popular brands like Lao Gan Ma, are widely available in Asian supermarkets across Europe and America, potentially exposing international consumers to these risks.
  • Regulatory Gaps: The 2014 "Edible Vegetable Oil Bulk Transportation Specification" in China recommends using dedicated vehicles for edible oil transport, but lacks the enforcement power to make it mandatory, leading to widespread non-compliance.

The recent scandal underscores the critical need for rigorous enforcement of food safety regulations and transparency in the food supply chain to protect public health both domestically and internationally.

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