To safeguard the interest of consumers, the Solvent Extractors' Association of India has urged the Centre and various state governments, including Punjab, to discourage the sale of loose edible oil and stringent punishment for violators. They are of the view that consumers must be educated about the advantages packed edible oil. On Tuesday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court issued a notice to the Central and Punjab governments, among others, on a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging violation of food safety norms by various edible oil firms. The petitioner, Kapurthala resident Rajesh Gupta, has alleged various firms in Punjab were selling adulterated mustard oil by labelling it as 'pure refined mustard oil' which could be sold in the market for human consumption. "Sale of edible oil in loose form is the biggest issue and we have been advocating in recent past that the government must discourage it. We urge the Union government as well as state government to ensure edible oil is retailed in a packaged form where the quality is ensured," said B V Mehta, executive director, the Solvent Extractors' Association of India.
The association was formed in 1963 to help and foster the development and growth of solvent extraction industry in India. At present, the association is having 875 members, which include 350 solvent extraction plants, having combined oilcake/oilseed processing annual capacity of about 30 million tonnes. According to Rajesh Kumar Keshry, legal head & company secretary, Puri Oil Mills Ltd, "Earlier, edible oil was sold in loose form but some sellers and middleman blend the loose edible oil with cheaper variant so that they can make high profits. Even if loose edible oil sellers comply with food regulations and standards, there is no guarantee that it would remain unadulterated as it passes through several hands. Prevention of Food Adulteration has banned the sale of loose edible oil since 1998."