The Gutter Oil Podcast

“It was really distressing for me to talk to a WHO expert and have him tell me, ‘I have no idea where it’s safe to buy food here ...’” — Sharon LaFraniere.

When Luoyang journalist Li Xiang broke China’s latest food scandal last week, exposing the industrial reprocessing and resale of “gutter oil” in a massive operation allegedly concealed by government officials in Henan, the news sparked yet more public outrage over China’s food safety record, while triggering what seems to have been brutal retaliation by the producers, who are suspected of ordering the killing of Li earlier this week in what is being treated by the authorities as a murder-robbery.

As awareness has spread that the Chinese government is hoarding organic food for its own consumption, the question of food safety has never been a more sensitive public topic, which is why this week on Sinica we’re pleased to welcome Barbara Demick of The Los Angeles Times and Sharon LaFraniere of The New York Times. Both excellent China-watchers doing investigative work on China’s growing food scandals, Barbara and Sharon join Sinica regulars Jeremy Goldkorn and Will Moss to bring us the inside scoop on how bad the situation really is and why food safety is so difficult for China to get right.