Adulterated Cooking Oil Flooding Nigerian Markets

Published: 19 June 2024

Palm Oil 0Palm oil (Photo: Amuzujoe, Wikimedia, License)

By Nneoma Omeje

The Nigerian government has raised alarm over the recent rise in contaminated palm oil into which middlemen are allegedly adding dye, transformer oil or other harmful substances to increase their profit. Such products can cause severe health complications such as cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and even death.

"Most diseases that Nigerians face are due to the consumption of these adulterated food products found in tomatoes, onions, and even palm oil. I am calling on all government agencies to work together to deal with the situation," Ambassador Alphonso Inyang, the National President of the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN), told OCCRP.

Palm oil is a crucial ingredient in the diets of many Nigerians. It is obtained from the fleshy mesocarp of the oil palm fruit. It is grown commercially in Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific, as well as on a small scale in other tropical areas.

Despite its widespread use, most palm oil sold in the open market is adulterated. This menace is damaging the Nigerian economy, Inyang said.

"Other African countries are currently aware of the issue of adulterated food in Nigeria, and it is severely affecting our economy," he explained.

Dr. Jerome Mafeni, the Technical Advisor at the Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), told OCCRP in a phone conversation that the warning is timely. Many Nigerians suffer from serious health issues such as cancer, heart failure, and other diseases due to the consumption of these toxic substances.

He emphasized that the FCCPC and other regulatory agencies need to work urgently to remove fake and adulterated products from the market to safeguard consumers from harmful goods.

Addressing the issue of food adulteration is crucial to protect public health and stabilize the market. Efforts from government agencies are crucial as  activities of these traders will bite hard in the Nigerian workforce if not properly addressed, he added.