Forty percent of unrefined coconut oil imports contain toxic chemicals

About 40% of the unrefined coconut oil imported to the country contains toxic chemicals, State Minister Arundika Fernando said in Parliament yesterday. Furthermore, he added that crude oil import should be discontinued as well.

He was speaking at a discussion regarding a recently-imported stock of unrefined coconut oil that was unfit for consumption. MP J.C. Alawathuwala said that there was information suggesting that the stock had been released to the market. However, State Minister Fernando denied the allegations, stating that due to the importation of cheap and unrefined coconut oil, about 40% of the oil contains toxic chemicals.

“A chemical called aflatoxin is present in coconut oil before it is refined. It is removed from the oil when refined. However, the stock that was imported contained a large amount of aflatoxin. Even if it were to be refined, the percentage of the chemical was too high for it to be completely removed from the stock,” the state minister said.

“Therefore, based on a report issued by health officials and the Sri Lanka Standards Institute, the Customs Director-General issued an order on March 4 to re-export the stock of oil. As high-quality coconut oil is expensive, importers tend to request cheap coconut oil. These consist of 60% coconut oil, 30% synthetic oils, and 10% coconut oil aroma. The ministry has continuously demanded a total ban on coconut oil imports, similar to the one imposed on palm oil,” he added.

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