The ministry of industries on Sunday asked the edible oil companies to stop the loose sale of the item by December for such sale continued to fail to comply with Bangladesh standards.
‘The edible oil companies have committed to replacing the loose sale with bottled or packaged sale by December,’ said industries secretary Abdul Halim after attending a meeting with edible oil business representatives at his office.
This is the fourth time since last year the government issued a deadline for the edible oil companies to fully switch to packaged or bottled marketing of the product.
‘Lack of hygiene is another problem with the open sale of edible oils for they are carried in drums rarely cleaned,’ said Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution director Sajjadul Bari.
Over 70 per cent of some 5,000 tonnes of edible oils consumed daily in the country are sold openly, according to the BSTI.
Usually grocers use large drums to contain edible oils they sell loose. The drums are usually kept in a corner of the front of the grocery shop easily accessible to customers.
The drums are not covered with a lid and often stand in the open.
A casual look at such drums would reveal layers of dusts and sediments on the outer surface of the drums for they are seldom, or not at all, cleaned.
Customers often come across a strong stench as the drums stink.
‘Nowhere else in the world edible oil is sold open,’ said Bangladesh Agricultural University’s food technology and rural industries professor Abdul Alim.
Oil oxidises as soon as it comes in contact with air and slowly but steadily loses all its qualities, said Alim.
Usually oil is considered an important source of vitamin A, D, E and K but the vitamins gets ruined in the process of oxidisation, he said.
‘Rancid oil is very bad for health,’ he said.
Often chemical and mineral oil drums are used for storing and carrying edible oil.
BAU agricultural chemistry professor Hari Pada Seal said that it would be difficult for an unsuspecting customer to distinguish between pure and petrol-mixed edible oil.
‘We have reports of using drums, used for carrying petrol, to sell edible oil. This is a great health risk,’ said Hari Pada.
The samples of edible oils sold open tested by the BSTI often fail the vitamin A test.
It is mandatory that any edible oil must contain 15 to 30ppm of vitamin A per litre.
BSTI officers said that up to 90 per cent of the samples did not pass the vitamin A test.
In last June the BSTI seized 240 drums each of which was carrying 204 litres of soya bean and palm oil, as they contained no labels.
The samples taken from 180 of the drums did not have the required vitamin A.
BSTI officials said that roughly 15 companies imported crude soya bean and palm oils to Bangladesh to have them refined in Dhaka and other places.
They disclosed that the importers sold about 30 per cent of their oils in bottles which rarely failed the standards tests.
But the rest 70 per cent of the imported oils sold in drums to local dealers by the companies are often not vitamin fortified and properly refined, said BSTI officials.
City Group director Bishwajit Saha said that they were not aware of any deadline instructed by the government.
BSTI’s Sajjadul Bari said that the bottled and packaged edible oil would come in different sizes, from 250ml to 40 litres.
‘We are determined to implement the deadline this time,’ he said. (Source: New Age)