Chinese Court Threatens Death for Swill Merchants

At Bloomberg, Adam Minter surveys attitudes towards a Supreme People’s Court recommendation that sellers of recycled cooking oil be “resolutely” sentenced to death. While harsher punishments for this and other violations seem broadly popular, there is little apparent optimism about their likely deterrent effect.

… [F]or all the anger at the waste oil merchants and their patrons, few think heavier penalties will make much of an impact on a highly profitable industry. In a lengthy editorial in the Beijing-based Worker’s Daily, a venerable state-owned paper that focuses on economic issues, Cheng Li touched on this perspective:

Gutter oil can’t be eradicated only by adding heavy penalties to the law. There are always plenty of people motivated by profits and willing to battle high waves and winds … [T]his situation can’t be broken by prohibition.

Even the most bloodthirsty of netizens don’t seem to expect any practical results to emerge from the threat of waste oil executions. Indeed, by Wednesday, they’d moved onto new food-related scandals, including news that Chinese Olympians are now raising their own chickens in order to avoid ingesting chemicals used in commercially raised ones. However, at least for one microblogger, this raised a pressing question: “How do you ensure that the chicken feed doesn’t contain prohibited goods, too?”

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