Around 90 per cent of peanut oil dealers went out of business in the last two years since substandard and fake varieties started to dominate the market, according to producers.
“The fake oils need to be stopped,” said a manufacturer. “It just takes a few chemicals to make palm oil smell and look like peanut oil.”
A viss (1.65kg) of palm oil is available at Ks1,600 (US$1.2) and a viss of chemicals, mostly sodium hydroxide, cost only Ks100 and the end product is sold at Ks2,400, while genuine peanut oil costs Ks3,800.
There are apparently 15 genuine peanut oil dealers left in business while around 100 varieties are below par.
An oil miller in Mandalay said: “Ninety per cent of oil mills stopped operating as they cannot competent against fake products. The majority of the mills are in Mandalay, Sagaing and Magway regions.”
Flavouring chemicals can be found easily in markets but vegetable oils containing them are potentially harmful.
“The Consumer Protection Law 2014 specifies the penalties against the inedible food,” said legal expert Than Maung from Sittwe, Rakhine State.
Advertising foodstuffs unsuitable for health is punishable under the law with a three-year jail sentence. Anyone selling oil mixed with chemicals may face a three-year jail term or Ks5 million fine or both.