FDA blames adulteration of palm oil on demand for reddish oil

The Food and Drugs Authority says the recent adulteration of local palm oil with cancer-causing chemicals has been the cause of high demand for what it calls red oil by consumers.

According to the Authority, consumers preference for a more reddish palm oil on the thinking that the more red it is, the quality it is, has been the reason for the recent adulteration of palm oil with Sudan IV fat-soluble dye.

“People even call palm oil red oil, so at the back of their minds, they think palm oil has to be red. They get to the market and there is this palm oil that is yellow and they say no, we are not buying because it is not red; it doesn’t appeal to them because it looks like there something wrong with it,” Head of

Food Safety Management, Maria  Lovelace Johnson told TV3.

Dozens of drums of palm oil adulterated with the Sudan IV dye were seized in various markets in the Greater Accra by the authorities of the Food and Drugs Authority.

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Authorities say the palm oil that was being sold at 10 major markets in Accra contained Sudan IV fat-soluble dye; a chemical used industrially to colour oils, waxes, shoe polish, and greases among others.

Since 1995, the chemical hass been ruled as unsafe in food for human consumption because it is capable of causing damage to one’s DNA which can potentially lead to the formation of malignant tumours.

Yet some distributors and sellers of palm oil having been using the chemical to enhance and maintain the colour of the oil. The perception is that the red colour intensity is an indication of quality.

Speaking on TV3’s News @ 10 Monday night, she said the local breed of palm fruit which were used in the olden days for palm oil produced a more reddish palm oil than the agric breed of palm fruit that is currently widely used in the production of palm oil.

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“Agric palm fruit, doesn’t give you that kind of red oil,” she said, because a lot of consumers are accustomed to the palm oil from the local breed of palm fruit, they always want palm oil that is reddish in colour.

“so the [market] women, according to them, saw the need to colour it[palm oil] with Sudan dye 4. It is a consumer driven thing, that is why we need the consumer to help us solve this problem.

They [consumers] are demanding red oil so they [the sellers] supply them but then they did it in a very bad way. When the customers get there and they see it so red they are very happy to buy it,” she noted.

She noted that palm oil that are yellowish in nature are equally healthy, saying the “nutritional value is the same, nothing is lost by processing or by that variety of palm oil”.


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The Daily Graphic reported on Monday that 22 dealers suspected to be involved in the adulteration of the products before retailing them, had been arrested to assist in investigations.

“An initial laboratory analysis conducted on the products revealed they contain Sudan III and Sudan IV dyes. Continuous exposure and high levels of Sudan IV dye in food items increases the risk of cancer.

“We have also mapped out strategies to identify the processing points where the adulteration of these products are equally possible,” the Graphic quoted Mr Hudu Mogtari, Chief Executive Officer the FDA,

By: Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana
Twitter: @steviekgh



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