The state Food Safety and Drug Administration (FSDA) has begun to take serious action after they received reports of the oil samples collected from Meerut and sent for testing to a laboratory in Lucknow. Officials are very worried about the extent of the adulteration which seems to be rampant across the state.
What has come out in the reports is that cheap industrial oil is being contaminated with chemical toxins so that it resembles mustard oil. The oil traders use a substance called butter oil to get the mustardy yellow colour and then camouflage the smell by mixing essence of mustard. This is a well known way to adulterate cheap oil. Along with the use of butter yellow, the oil is dyed with a fat soluble azo dye and mustard pungency factor allyl isothiocyanate are added in the cheap oils to pass them off as mustard oil. Azo dye is banned for food usage throughout the world. Butter yellow is an adulterant that is carcinogenic and could cause cancer in the gall bladder.
By using this method of oil adulteration city traders are passing off cheap industrial oil as mustard oil. Already 23.000 litres of adulterated oil has been confiscated and the FSDA officials say that they are shocked that the extent of oil adulteration is so widespread and that so many traders are making a fool of the public.
Collecting samples has also not been easy as the traders went on strike and even ‘gheraoed’ the Sadar Police Station at Meerut. Samples were collected under police protection and the Rapid Action Force was in tow according to the DM’s orders. The Joint Traders Association says that it was unnecessary for the FSDA officials to come with such a large police force just to collect samples. The Joint Traders Association has however, reiterated that they do not support those who have indulged in adulteration or the manufacture of fake products.
The margin of profits in selling industrial oil as mustard oil is very high. Cheap industrial oil costs only Rs.25 a litre as compared to mustard oil which is sold between Rs.85 to Rs.100 a litre. The spurious ‘mustard oil’ is being filled into bottles of well known mustard brand labels and being openly sold in the market. Since the oil is being sold in bottles of branded labels customers must take all precautions before they purchase mustard oil.
FSDA officials said that the situation is very grave as they have also seized large quantities of industrial oil from mustard oil manufacturers. Mustard oil manufacturers will now have to explain why they have so much industrial oil in their possession.