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Red alert over proliferation of adulterated palm oil in markets

By By Gbenga Akinfenwa
19 March 2023   |   3:15 am
Experts have raised concern over the proliferation of adulterated palm oil across markets in the country.

Palm Oil

Experts have raised concern over the proliferation of adulterated palm oil across markets in the country.

According to them, the diluted oil, when deposited in human body is capable of causing cancer and other critical health issues that may lead to terminal diseases or untimely death.

The immediate past President, National Palm Oil Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN), Mr. Henry Olatujoye, who confirmed this to The Guardian, said at least 60 per cent of the palm oil in markets across the country is adulterated.

Investigations showed that the heinous act is due to the increasing cost of the produce, to the extent that several households are currently finding it difficult to afford it.

Based on The Guardian market survey in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Osun states, the price of a litre of palm oil is currently higher than a litre of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). While a litre of PMS is between N184 and N200, a litre of palm oil hovers around N1, 160 and N1, 200.

The adulterated oil is reportedly cheaper. It was learnt that the culprits have taken to diluting original palm oil with substances to maximise profit, at the expense of health of unsuspecting buyers.

As gathered, when the colourant is mixed with water and added to original palm oil, it increases its redness, creating the impression that it is better in quality than other oil in the market. It was further learnt that the demand for the ‘killer oil’ is increasing due to its rich colour and attractiveness, as buyers prefer it to the original oil.

Olatujoye said the adulteration of palm oil is still persistent all over Nigeria. “They have even gone beyond mixing magenta – a deep red-like dye, with the palm oil to improve its coloration. People have now improved by mixing chemicals and pouring it into the palm oil to look more oily.

“There are some levels of adulteration whereby people mix sludge – an industrial oil use in making soap. It’s not made for consumption but people still mix it and blend it with palm oil to increase their volume. So, if you don’t know, you’ll just buy it and start to eat. So, the level of its adoption and usage currently is very high.”

Continuing, Olatujoye said: “You know in every business environment, there is always the dark side of it. The only thing we can do is to create more awareness among consumers and do more training for people to understand that when looking for high-grade palm oil, these are the parameters.

“Firstly, one of the parameters is to look at the bottle, if it’s a pet bottle, once you shake it very well and allow it to settle, if it’s a good palm oil, it will have a free flow down without stains of residue on the body, but if it’s fake, you’ll see some patches on the bottle, showing that it’s actually a bad palm oil.

“So, we need to increase awareness, training and retraining of people and then get more information across to consumers for them to understand how to discover fake and good palm oil.”

Olatujoye attributed the development to supply deficit, aggravated by population explosion, as well as increase in industrial utilisation. “Palm oil has always been higher in price when compared to petroleum products; this is because of population, which leads to increase in industrial utilisation and consumption.

“Looking at the Ukraine-Russian war and the COVID-19 pandemic era, which distorted the supply chain of so many commodities and dropped the value of naira to dollar, it is clear why we have price increase. What we are enjoying today is home advantage, which is not sustainable.”