PALAKKAD: The flow of adulterated coconut oil from Tamil Nadu continues unabatedly into Kerala. The smuggling of adulterated edible oil has gone up with Onam round the corner.
According to sources, a Tamil Nadu based oil mafia smuggles thousands of litres of adulterated oil into Kerala. These smugglers avoid the highways, instead they use the forest routes to dodge the police. The mafia has taken advantage of the police department’s ignorance about these roads.
The arrival of adulterated edible oil in Kerala market makes a mockery of the Food Safety officials’ drive against the menace. On Thursday, police seized around 600 litres of adulterated coconut oil from house at Kongad in Palakkad. The modus operandi of the mafia to make quick bucks is to mix palm kernel oil with coconut oil.
The Food Safety officers, however, claimed that they were helpless as the adulterated oil was being smuggled via forest paths. “We are trying to identify these paths with the help of the police and once the paths have been identified the culprits will be caught red-handed,” said Ramachandran C P, Food Safety Officer.
On May 16 ‘Express’ had published an article regarding the rise in the sale of adulterated oil in Kerala. In the wake of report, measures were taken to beef up the security across the check posts to curb the smuggling.
“In last two months we have collected as many as 700 samples of oil that is being imported through the check posts. Due to the raids we conducted, the practice of importing adulterated coconut oil through check posts has declined. The importers, however, have found other ways to smuggle adulterated oil and hence, there has been a spurt in the activity,” added Ramachandran.
The palm kernel oil has the same characteristics and aroma of pure coconut oil, this makes it difficult to detect the adulteration. One litre of palm kernel oil costs only `20 to `40, whereas one litre coconut oil costs up to `180.
So the merchants promote the sale of adulterated coconut oil eyeing huge profit.
Though developed nations have banned palm kernel oil due to its harmful effect on health, in India it is still being imported.
Malaysia is a major exporter of palm kernel oil.
“Importing palm kernel oil is not a crime. It is used by the soap industry. However, the number of vehicles transporting palm kernel oil every day to Kerala makes one wonder about the number of soap industries here,” said a Food Safety Officer on a condition of anonymity.
It is also alleged that politicians work hand in glove with these smugglers and the Food Safety Officers