Home > NEWS > Trade helpless; Adulterators sell Rs 25 oil at Rs 150, make huge profits

Trade helpless; Adulterators sell Rs 25 oil at Rs 150, make huge profits

12,February, 2015
A large number of small time mustard oil manufacturers in the country seem to be violating Food Safety and Standards Regulations,2011,that insist on selling edible oils only in packaged form sans any adulterants,by selling in loose a non-edible variety of oil that is adulterated with artificial essence and colour, as mustard oil.

The said oil is a popular cooking medium, in northern states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and hence the adulterated oil racket, though numbers are not available, seems to be eating into a large chunk of the organised edible oil business selling mustard oil in this region.

In Uttar Pradesh, artificial essence and the colour butter yellow are added to a non-edible variety of oil to make it look and smell like mustard oil. Vijay Bahadur Yadav, deputy commissioner, Food & Drugs Administration, Government of Uttar Pradesh, explains, “An unwavering greed for profits by the traders takes hold of common people. Our team raided the traders from Meerut and Kanpur who were passing off non-edible oil of different commodities, other than mustard, costing about Rs 25 a litre, as mustard oil, which costed around Rs 150 a litre, by adding artificial essence and butter yellow.”

He added, “Our team did a surprise raid in Kanpur on January 2 and 3 and in Meerut from January 5 to 8, 2015, and we have confiscated more than 25,000 litre of mustard and refined oil from traders with licences to produce mustard oil. The seized samples have been sent for a lab for analysing. Few samples of mustard oil seized from Kanpur were found to be substandard. Action will be taken against the traders concerned.”

Yadav is alarmed. “While carrying out the raid with my team, I was surprised, not by the illegal activity of the traders but by their brazenness. Most of the traders were just eyeing profits. They had no concern for people’s health. During the day of the raid, they openly sold the adulterated oil and aggressively opposed the sampling and quality checks exercise that we were carrying out.”

As for adulterants, Yadav informed, “During the five-day raid, our team found more than 28 quintals of broken rise, more than 30 quintals of rice husk and synthetic colurs, which were used for adulteration.”

Yadav elaborated further, “These traders do not fear the law. They just focus on how to hoodwink the authorities. Their modus operandi is thus: make the inferior variety oil and sell it under various ‘brand’ names. If one trader is investigated, the others continue with the same. And, for them, it takes no time to introduce a new ‘brand.’ Representatives of some big brands are also involved with these unorganised traders in this adulteration racket.”

As for Madhya Pradesh, a food safety officer, on the condition of anonymity, stated, “Even though many organisations are opposing sale of loose edible oil because it is adulterated, the Government of Madhya Pradesh is not restricting its sale with a concern for poor people. Hence, the sale of loose edible oil is exempted from any action for another year. The government is justifying its stand by saying poor people cannot afford packed oil.”

He rued, “Because of the one year extension, we are not able to take action against edible oil traders who are involved in adulteration.” Interestingly, the authorities concerned seem to be helpless though 2.4.2 of Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, clearly states, “Blended Edible Vegetable Oils shall not be sold in loose form.”

While authorities concerned are finding it difficult to take action against these smalltime traders due to various reasons, those representing the organised trade are concerned about the impact on their businesses. A representative from K S Oils in Madhya Pradesh, on the condition of anonymity, commented, “Due to some corrupt traders, who adulterate mustard oil, some big companies like K S Oils also come under the scanner of food safety authority.” As a deterrent, he recommended, “The traders who are involved in adulteration of edible oils should be given stringent punishment by the authority so that they don’t repeat the act.”

Meanwhile, reiterating the organised industry demand for ban on sale of loose edible oil, B V Mehta, executive director, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, stated, “Several times we have urged both Union government as well as state government to ensure that edible oil is retailed in a packaged form where the quality is ensured.” He added, “We are of the view that consumers must be educated about the advantages of packed edible oil.”

Categories: NEWS
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