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Checking adulteration of palm oil

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PALM OIL is one of the products that is being produced in Nigeria and exported to other countries. Nigeria was known as a country that exports natural red oil. Today, most of the palm oil sold in Nigerian markets is adulterated. According to research, most traders dealing in palm oil or even the producers, in order to make more profit mix red oil with colours and other substances that gives  it  a different  taste and odour. As a matter of fact, a good number of palm oil users have complained about the quality of some of the product.

Research has shown that palm oil has gone out of from what it used to be; full of different mixtures and tastes but still looks reddish.

In an  interview, a retailer of  palm oil who  sells  in  bottles   at Eke-Awka,  said it  was possible that most of the product are adulterated but  claimed  it  is caused by the processors, producers,  distributors and some retailers of oil and so on.  She explained that she buys palm oil at Ugwuoba and that she always taste the oil before she buys.

According to Mr Ifeanyi, there  is  high  rise  of  adulterated  red oil  in  Nigerian  markets  and  is  most  evident  in  Lagos  markets, especially  in  Oshodi and Mushin markets.

He said  that  by  deep  research  and observation, the  market  women  mix  the  contents  with  coloring  and  add special  liquid  which  they  refused to  disclose  its  name  to  increase  quantity.  “This  is  very  dangerous  to  human  consumption. The  fact that   most  Lagosians turn blind  eyes  to  this  due  to  the  unavailability  of   alternatives  to  the product is worrisome”.

He advised  that  the  measures  to  curtail  these could arise  from  public and  private  partnership  to  checkmate the source  of   palm  oil from  the point  of production  to  the  final  place  of  sales  and  distribution.  “Also, setting  up  of manufacturing  industries to refine  the  oil  to  standard  will  ease  the  pain  of manual-production.”

At an   oil  mill in Ufuma,  Orumba North LGA, the  manager of the mill who preferred anonymity said  that  he didn’t have  time for  production  of  adulterated  palm  oil.  “We are  always  busy  trying  to meet  up  people’s demands, but  these  distributors  that buy  in  large quantities buy  to  store,  waiting  for  the  period  of  scarcity.  The  oil  congils because  it stays  for months and  years  and they rely on  chemicals  that  will make  it  reddish”.

Director of produce, Ministry of Agriculture,  Anambra State, Dr  Uzoamaka Emeagwali, explained  that  “palm  oil  is a  major  vegetable  oil  that  is  used  in  many  soups  and  meals  especially in West  African  Countries.  With  sudden  rise  in  cases  of cancer,  organs damages  and  heart  diseases  with no  specific cause, it  has  become  very  important  for  Nigeria   to  pay particular  attention on  the  quality of  palm  oil to  be  used in  their  homes. Some  people  in  their quest  to  make  more money have colluded with  producers  and  marketers of  this oil  to  add  some  inedible  substances  or  chemicals that  could  make palm  oil  appear  like  the unadulterated  one”.

According to her,  “production  of  this  oil  has  made   it  practically impossible  to  physically  differentiate  between  a  good  palm  oil and  fake.  Many consumers look for redness before buying palm oil.   The  marketers  and  producers  having this  at  the back  of  their  minds,  now  use  a  chemical  called  solvent  red  24 (used  in  coloring plastics) as  an additive  to  improve  the  redness  and  make  the  oil  to  appear  like  properly  made  palm  oil. Anatol  Dye   is  also  used  to  achieve  redness;  Azo  Dye is  also used  to adulterate  palm  oil.  Azo Dye  is used  in  dying  cloth  and  is not  to  be  consumed  because  it is  highly  carcinogenic,  which means it  causes  cancer.   It   is a   major colorant used.   These  Azo  dye chemical  used on palm  oil  are  formulated  using  colorful  and often  toxic  metal  which  could cause  bioaccumulation  in  the  body  and  damage  its  physiology

“ As a ministry,  we  have  made  certain  efforts  by calling  a  meeting  of  producers  and  marketers  of palm  oil  to  see  how  to  eliminate  this  wicked  act.   Secondly,  we  are  going  to  carryout  sensitization  in  the  whole  markets in  Anambra”.

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