Adulterated coconut oil is making its way into Kerala on a large scale after inspections at the check-posts came to halt following implementation of the GST. The perpetrators behind the act are taking advantage of the huge market and high price for coconut oil in Kerala .
Palm kernel oil imported from Malaysia replaces the coconut oil. While coconut oil costs Rs 180 per litre, palm kernel oil costs around Rs 57.
Palm kernel oil is mixed with coconut oil for aroma and is sold as coconut oil in Kerala market, according to reports. Palm kernel oil is derived from the kernel of the oil palm while palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the oil palm fruit. Palm kernel oil is considered lower in quality than palm oil. Since the chemical structure of palm kernel oil and coconut oil are the same, it is difficult to distinguish between the two even in lab tests. In Tamil Nadu alone, there are 13 firms which are importing palm kernel oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia. This oil is transported to Kerala in tanker lorries through the border village of Meenakshipuram in Palakkad.
It then goes to coconut oil manufacturing units in the state where they mix it with original coconut oil and fill in packets. After the working of check posts came to a halt, the trucks are an easy entry into Kerala. The law is the main hurdle before the Food Safety department in curbing such malpractices. The Food Safety department is
devoid of powers to nab and register case against people who are selling adulterated food stuff. The department is often short of staff and the
officials can only collect the samples for test. The rules do not allow the food safety personnel to take the vehicle into custody. By the time they get it tested at a government lab, the product will be completely sold out. Only the RDO can take action against the culprits.