One of my friends from Singapore recently sent me this article from the Washington Post titled: You may never eat street food in China again after watching this video.
The article is about black market “recycled” cooking oil fished from the sewer. While technically illegal, it accounts for about 10% of all cooking oil in China. While you’re not going to find this stuff at the grocery store, a lot of street vendors and hole-in-the-wall restaurants will buy this toxic gunk well below market price and use it in their cooking.
While this video is pretty scary, these places can be easily avoided while traveling in China; just don’t eat at a place that looks like it will make you sick.
Since I’ve lived in China for a while now, I tend to eat at little hole-in-the-wall places all the time because they’re cheap, fast and convenient. I frequent places in non-touristy areas because they have to rely on local customers to make a business. If they poison enough people with garbage oil, everyone will stop coming back. If a place is packed during lunch and dinner house with locals getting off work, you can be almost certain that it’s “fine” by China standards.