Co-Cabinet spokesman, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana yesterday said, he did not disapprove the claim that the importation of coconut oil contaminated with carcinogenic Aflatoxin was a conspiracy hatched by the palm oil producers aimed at discouraging the use of coconut oil in the country and tarnish the government's image.
He told the weekly cabinet news briefing held yesterday on virtual format that the palm oil growers and palm oil millers bear a grudge against the government as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has decided to ban the import of palm oil and restrict the oil palm cultivation.
Minister Pathirana said the goverment would shortly issue a gazette notification prohibiting the cultivation of oil palm in addition to increasing the import tax on coconut in order to give a boost to coconut cultivation and the production of pure coconut oil locally.
Both the cabinet spokesmen, Ministers Dr. Pathirana and Udaya Gammanpila categorically said that the carcinogenic coconut oil has has been imported by four importers, did not enter the local market and therefore, no one must be suspicious on coconut oil that is sold in the open market right now is contaminated.
The first hint of the importation of contaminated coconut oil was sounded by the Sri Lanka Customs and the four consignments have been sealed preventing a possible release to the local market.
“An extensive laboratory test was carried by out by CAA on the entire volume of the suspected coconut oil that was imported by four companies. The government will take a final decision after the laboratory test reports are issued.
However, one consignment proved to have been contaminated with Aflatoxin, a carcinogenic chemical. What I can assure you is that the government will not let the carcinogenic coconut oil enter the local market,” Minister Pathirana stressed.(Sandun A. Jayasekera)