Chinese gets life in prison for 'gutter oil' profits

A Chinese court on Wednesday sentenced a man to life in prison for profiting from the manufacture and sale of polluted cooking oil, derisively known as "gutter oil", state media reported.

The Lianyungang Intermediate People's Court in the eastern province of Jiangsu handed down the life sentence on Wang Chengkui, Xinhua news agency said.

It identified Wang as "a shareholder and legal representative" of Kangrun Company based in the city of Lianyugang.

The ruling also said Wang should be stripped of his political rights for life and have all of his assets seized, the report said.

"Gutter oil" normally refers to cooking oil illegally made by reprocessing waste oil or by dredging up leftovers from restaurants and marketing it as new.

Wang had stood accused of manufacturing cooking oil using "discarded inedible materials such as skins and buttocks of chickens and ducks as well as pig offal", Xinhua said.

Wang received more than 60 million yuan (about $10 million) after selling the oil to more than 100 food manufacturers or oil processors in various parts of China from January 2011 to March 2012, the report said.

A total of 14 others involved in the case received jail sentences of up to 15 years and fines of up to five million yuan, Xinhua said.

The case is the latest to highlight poor food safety standards in China.

Health authorities last year launched a crackdown on gutter oil, with more than 100 people arrested and 20 imprisoned -- two of them for life -- as part of the campaign.

Poor food safety standards are a major concern in China, particularly among the less affluent who cannot buy imported products.

Xinhua described the problem of "gutter oil" as widespread and said it "contains carcinogenic substances" and "is dangerous if consumed".