Coconut oil samples of the 04 long-standing importers are being tested currently and the results will be released within a few days, the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) said in a statement today (26).
According to the SLSI, samples of Ali Brothers Pvt Ltd, Sena Mills Refineries, Edirisinghe Edible Oils and Katana Refineries are being tested.
The SLSI rejected allegations levelled against them and noted that the 13 containers of coconut oil were not approved for sales to consumers by the Director-General of Sri Lanka Customs, Director General of the Sri Lanka Standards Institution, and the Food Control Unit of the Ministry of Health.
"It has been observed that media and social media has hyped up a totally fabricated and false allegation that senior officials of the SLSI had authorised the sale of unhealthy coconut oil imported to the nation," SLSI Director General Dr. Siddihika Senaratne said.
The Director General reiterated that the SLSI will not compromise the set standards for any commodity or material that will be detrimental to the lives and livelihoods of Sri Lankans.
The statement further said,
"SLSI continuously conducts laboratory testing for Aflatoxin in coconut oil imported into the country by all importers to ascertain that it conforms to the set standards of 10 micrograms/kg
Contrary to false social media/media reports, 13 containers of Coconut oil have not been approved for sales to consumers by any authority namely DG SL Customs, DG SLSI and Health Ministry (Food Control) unit. The consumer Affairs Authority is also carrying out a stringent watch on these imports.
The 4 said importers, namely Ali Brothers Pvt Ltd, Sena Mills Refineries, Edirisinghe Edible Oils and Katana Refineries are long standing importers of Oil and their samples are under test for which results will be released within a few days.
Based on the test results, SLSI together with the Ministry of Health (Food Control Unit) will provide the necessary instructions to SL Customs for sale or re-export of the above imports.”
Crude palm oil imports
It has been almost a year since the government introduced measures to promote the use of coconut oil among local consumers.
Accordingly, a special commodity levy of Rs. 125,000 (Rs. 125 per kilo) has been imposed on a ton of crude coconut oil while a special commodity levy of Rs. 250,000 (Rs. 250 per kilo) has been imposed on a ton of crude palm oil.
As a result of government subsidies to accommodate these structural changes, many refineries have recently been importing refined and crude coconut oil from countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Meanwhile, daily stock inspections carried out by the Port Food and Health Unit, which falls under the purview of the Ministry of Health, have uncovered that the 185.5 tonne container currently being highlighted in the media contained a harmful substance known as 'Aflatoxin'.
The Ministry of Health (Food Control Unit) and the SLSI have informed the relevant importers and they have been instructed to re-export the aforementioned consignment.