BBG Watch Commentary

Radio Free Asia (RFA) video 'The Making of Gutter Oil'
Radio Free Asia (RFA) video ‘The Making of Gutter Oil’

One can still find good journalism, good investigative reporting, social media success and good news sense at media outlets funded by U.S. taxpayers through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to support delivery of uncensored news and media freedom abroad.

While the Voice of America (VOA), suffering from poor management, frequently misses or is late and superficial in reporting on important U.S. and international news stories while posting such feature content as five reports on the royal christening in Great Britain — all of which have gotten barely two dozen or so Facebook “Likes” on the VOA English website — another BBG-funded broadcaster, Radio Free Asia (RFA), keeps producing broadcasts, online news and video news reports that attract wide international attention.

As of October 31, the video on YouTube has over 850,000 views.

The Washington Post reported on the RFA video in this article:

“This video, produced by Radio Free Asia, shows in excruciating detail how a couple of gutter oil vendors go about their work. It starts with the couple scooping sewage out of the ground, and it ends with unwitting Chinese consumers chowing down on the end product:”


BBG Press Release

RFA Video China’s Gutter Oil Goes Viral

OCTOBER 31, 2013

This week, Radio Free Asia’s video exposé on China’s black market production of “gutter” oil went viral on social media and websites around the world.

Topping 850,000 views on YouTube, the investigative piece was the focus of an entry on Washington Post’s WorldView blog, which then in turn led to it being picked up on numerous news sites and blogs, including Atlantic and Mediaite.

The video shows the origin of recycled oil, following its harvesting from sewers in Shenzhen in the form of solid grease before being processed at a makeshift site. The substance, laden with toxic byproducts, is then sold to street food vendors, restaurants, and hotels who use it for cooking.

RFA’s video raises questions about China’s success in enforcing reforms enacted by the government to safeguard food quality for its citizens. The video, part of a series on China food safety issues titled “Poisoned at the Source,” depicts this entire process from beginning to end, interviewing the producers and users of gutter oil.