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No groundnuts in groundnut oil!

The Consumer Association of India (CAI) carried out tests to check the purity of edible oils. Samples from various places in Tamil Nadu were collected. It was found that a majority of them were adulterated and did not adhere to the regulatory standards prescribed.

No groundnuts in  groundnut oil!

Most of the edible oil packets that carried the label groundnut oil had either some other oil instead of groundnut oil or a major part of it adulterated with palmolein, cotton seed oil, etc.

On close examination of the labelled information printed over the groundnut oil packets, CAI found that only one out of the 14 had only 10 per cent groundnut oil, while six contained 20 per cent. One sample was found to have 100 per cent RBD Palmolein sold in the name of groundnut oil; out of the 14, only four was found to have 100 per cent content of groundnut oil.

Palmolein and cottonseed oil were the major adulterating agents in groundnut oil samples.  Also only 21 per cent of the samples collected had FSSAI logo and 36 per cent with FSSAI licence number. The remaining 79 per cent did not even have a logo and 64 per cent were without FSSAI licence number which are mandatory.

CAI also said that 42 per cent of the samples did not have the mandatory Agmark logo and 28 per cent never claimed to be free from argemone oil.

CAI scrutinised other edible oils also. Shockingly groundnut oil is not the only thing adulterated. A surprise check by CAI found that some of the sunflower oil packs were adulterated with 50 per cent cottonseed oil and 50 per cent palmolein.

“These were ways through which manufacturers were cheating consumers who bought groundnut oil for the taste, flavour and quality. Consuming these adulterated oils would lead to ill effects. A consumer’s desire to have groundnut oil for nutrition is at vain,” said a CAI spokesperson.

The edible oil brands taken for samples were not disclosed by CAI. Hence consumers should beware buying edible oils. A thorough look at the reverse side of the packet is necessary.

Recently, the demand for groundnut oil has been increasing, which elevated the average price of the oil to Rs 135 per litre at retail stores. As a reflection of the rise in demand, farmers are expected to increase groundnut plantation at a rate of 15 per cent to 20 per cent in the current kharif season as many cotton producers are shifting to groundnut production and this is expected to bring relief to domestic consumption.

Adulteration of palmolein is not a new practice; for years this was neither questioned nor was serious action taken.     

CAI’s efforts should expand to such adulteration and short deliveries of petrol and diesel as well.

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