Chennai: Eight out of 10 coconut oil samples sold in the country are adulterated, according to a study by Consumer Voice, a leading consumer organisation, working under ‘Jago Grahak Jago’ programme of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
The study revealed that adulteration was found in eight major varieties namely mustard, sesame, coconut, sunflower, palmolein, soybean, groundnut and cottonseed oil.
When it comes to loose oil sold straight out of oil mills, the situation is even worse, the report said.
The study also highlighted that in the samples tested, coconut oil was the most adulterated with 85 per cent adulteration.
Results of tests done on cottonseed oil, sesame oil, mustard oil were also no better with 74.07 per cent, 74 per cent and 71.77 per cent adulteration found.
Recently, in Kerala, where coconut oil is widely used for cooking, the State’s Food and Safety Department banned the sale, storage, distribution and manufacture of 74 coconut oil brands after an investigation by a Malayalam news team found signs of adulteration.
This is not the first time that the department has taken action against adulterated and poor quality coconut oil brands. On 31 May, the sale of 45 coconut oil brands was banned and an additional 51 brands were banned 30 June. A total of 166 brands of coconut oil have been banned in Kerala this year.
Commenting on the findings, a renowned dermatologist said, “Adulterated oil not only causes allergies and increases cholesterol but also gives impetus to deadly diseases such as cancer, paralysis, liver damage and cardiac arrest. Consumers need to be more cautious when buying products and must go beyond just reading the labels.”
A prominent health expert added, “For most of my patients, the root cause of their health problem is the food they consume. We normally don’t bother checking for the purity of the oil we purchase. Studies have proved that loose oil is contaminated and has adverse effects on our body which can prove to be life-threatening in the long run.”
Consumer Voice said the tests were conducted at the National Accreditation Board of Testing and Calibration Laboratories with 1,015 edible oil samples lifted from 15 states. It said, “When it comes to coconut oil, it is advised that consumers buy only 100 per cent pure branded coconut oil with an FSSAI seal and trust well-known brands which have been selling only pure coconut oil for a long time.”
According to the FSSAI, some common adulterants and contaminants can be tested by people themselves, although there are tests that need sophisticated equipment and highly trained personnel for the procedure.
The FSSAI has released a manual to help determine if the food bought from the store is adulterated and create awareness among consumers about food safety.
| Here’s a 4-step testing method for detection of adulterants in coconut oil.
* In a transparent glass, take coconut oil.
* Place the glass in your refrigerator for 30 minutes (do not keep it in the freezer).
* After refrigeration, the coconut oil will solidify.
* If the coconut oil is adulterated, other oils remain as a separate layer.