The front page of the City Lady (都市女报) from Shandong province today reports that a listed company has “unexpectedly and crazily” succeeded in making medicine from gutter oil (地沟油). The company in question, Joincare (健康元全资子公司) has reportedly procured 145 million yuan’s worth of gutter oil and succeeded to transform it into 7-ACA, a core chemical structure for the synthesis of certain antibiotics and intermediates that is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry. Yet the only problem here is that Joincare apparently did not know what it was doing, or at least that is what they said in court.
According to a Public Security Bureau report, the Henan Jiaozuo (河南焦作) branch of the company was subject to a criminal investigation for the manufacturing of medicine from gutter oil, although the company claimed it was using the gutter oil merely to make the “raw materials for medicine” (which probably makes it all OK). A court case that was heard from the 28th of August in Ningbo (宁波) started to uncover “scary” further details of the company that extended to some of its other products, including (and here I am using the English translations from the company’s own website), Jingxin Menocare Essence (太太静心口服液) and Believe it, the American Ginseng inside is expected (鹰牌花旗参).
According to some of the charges laid out in court, Jiaozuo Joincare was the largest buyer of gutter oil (which goes for about 2,000 yuan per ton) in China, accounting for almost half of the total. On the evening of 29 August, a representative of the company sent out a written confirmation that Joincare had for a period of time bought gutter oil, although the company soon afterwards changed its confession to say that it had actually “mostly” bought only cooking oil in the stated period.
According to Joincare’s Deputy General Manager Qiu Qingfeng (邱庆丰), the company used its “Joincare enzymatic technique” to manufacture 7-ACA, and it thought that the oil that its suppliers had provided it was actually soybean oil, not gutter oil. Professing innocence, Qiu said that they simply had no way of checking what type of oil it was.