Substandard Palm Oil “Putting Ethiopians’ Health at Risk”

By Mhret G/Kristos

ADDIS ABABA – Substandard edible oils that are dominating the market are putting peoples health at risk, a health expert has warned on Wednesday.

The warning came after the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) has made an extensive investigation into edible oils in the market.

The institute said at least 16 imported and locally produced edible oils have been a subject of investigation this year. EPHI’s researchers found out that the qualities of most of the products have been compromised.

These products have high fatty acid content beyond the limit for human health, said Ebba Abate, director-general of the Institute, while briefing journalists on Wednesday.

Government imports at least 370 metric tons of edible oil, mostly Palm oil, at a cost of 9 to 12 billion Br.

Most of this palm oil is imported at a low price and with less quality to make it affordable to low and middle-income citizens.

“This is because high-quality oils are very expensive,” Ebba said. Experts say palm oil, made out of palm trees’ fruit, has a high concentration of fatty acid and could cause many diseases if consumed in excess.

“That means people consuming from oil products with 50% to 80% fatty acid concentration will have a high level of cholesterol in their blood,” he said.

The expert said these people are “at high-risk heart disease and stroke”. The prevailing contraband trade is aggravating the situation and the products reaching to market this way are poor in quality.

“They usually don’t have a date fo expiration,” he said, “The government should work more to control such products”.

Regarding the general import policy, the director-general of the Institute suggested for the government subsidize the product.

“The government could subsidize the product and import quality edible oils to the public,” he added.

Ministry of trade is currently preparing a new purchasing system for importing edible oil products with good quality, after receiving direction from the prime minister’s office.