Sunday, August 20, 2017

Industry association warns of mislabelled cooking oils in Mandalay

Palm oil is handed out in February 2007. (Archive)Palm oil is handed out in February 2007. (Archive)

Edible oil dealers are warning the public to beware of palm oil mixed with a chemical powder and passed off as peanut oil. The powder is meant to stop it solidifying, said U Tun Tun, secretary of the Association of Edible Oil Merchants and Millers in Mandalay Region.

Last month, the association found that some brands on sale are using the powder, which is imported from China in large quantities and then resold in 1-pound (0.45-kilogram) packages.

“Palm oil solidifies a little in low temperature, as do peanut oil and sesame oil. Now we are trying to find out the side-effects of that powder by contacting the Mandalay City Development Committee. We just want to warn the consumers that those kinds of oil are in the market and they have to be cautious about it,” he said.

A member of the edible oil association said the chemical powder, generally called “Ma Khel Say”, costs K15,000 a pound, and the fake oil mixed with it costs about K2100 a viss (one viss equals 1.6 kg or 3.6 lbs), much cheaper than real peanut oil.

“We were suspicious of the low price of K2100. By comparison, a viss of palm oil is about K1500 and a viss of imported branded palm oil is K2660. Some avaricious businessmen are using the chemical powder and fragrance oil in unqualified palm oil and selling it cheap as qualified peanut oil. But we can’t sell real peanut oil at that price because the raw oil is too expensive,” U Than Lwin said.

It’s difficult for the oil association to take action against fake products because they have no laboratory of their own to analyse suspicious products, said oil miller U Zaw Win. Nor does the association have the authority to take suspicious products off the market. All it can do is alert the public, he said.

U Tun Tun said this was just the latest in a succession of cases of edible oils being mislabelled. He said the association wants consumer protection laws enacted and properly enforced to manage the issue, which he said posed a health risk to consumers.