The food safety regulatory body has collected 4500 of edible oil from across the country for a pan-India adulteration survey.
Adulterated cooking oil has been a problem faced pan-India despite stringent product testing and food safety regulations. The apex regulatory body, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Friday announced its efforts on a pan India survey to test adulteration in edible oil. The survey samples were collected between August 25th and 27th. The survey of edible oil standards is being conducted by collecting 4,500 different samples of edible oils from across the country. These oils include mustard oil, palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil and blended oils.
The oil samples were collected from retail vendors of oil and grocery stores as well as hypermarkets and supermarkets. The survey includes national brands of oil as well as local and unbranded oil. The FSSAI said in a statement that State Food Safety Department Officials had collected the samples from all over India. At least 50 samples were collected from Metro cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata. From other cities and Metros, officials collected 6-8 samples from various areas. The body took efforts to include difficult terraneous regions such as Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Daman and Diu as well as Andaman.
Back in January, a major racket of adulterated edible oil sales was unraveled by the Gurugram Police. They busted a production unit in Bilaspur where a group of individuals were involved in making fake edible oil. The accused owner Yogendar Singh was involved in the racket for the last 5 years. The individuals mixed edible oils of known national brands with lower quality local oils later repackaging them for sale in local markets. Police found 89 packets of Fortune Brand oil along with large quantities of plastic rappers, bottles, bottle caps, counterfeit Fortune company monograms. The above example is a good illustration of food adulteration and cheating using a name brand which poses serious health risks.
Fake edibles oils can be highly injurious to health. These blends of oils can contain unnaturally high levels of polyunsaturated fats and Omega-6 fatty acids which can cause high cholesterol and heart disease. Some oils may also contain BHA and BHT, artificial antioxidants that keep food from spoiling too quickly. However, these compounds have been tested and were proved to be carcinogenic. Immune system issues, kidney damage and behavioural problems are some of the other effects of consuming oils that are not regulated or adulterated.
With the nationwide survey, the FSSAI aims to identify the key hot spots for the adulteration of edible oil in different parts of the country. The effort will help the States and Union Territories in devising targeted enforcement drives in the months to come. In a written statement, the FSSAI said,
“A comprehensive strategy for testing of these samples through the State Food Testing Laboratories or FSSAI notified food testing labs (including private NABL accredited) to analyze various parameters including Fatty Acid composition as well as adulteration of any other oils or harmful or extraneous substance/ chemical has been developed.”
The exercise by the FSSAI will help ensure the availability of pure and safe edible oils in the country.