Imported oil stocks with aflatoxin: Last consignment at importer’s warehouses

  • Awaiting final results of Customs investigation 

  • Probe delayed due to Covid-19 situation in SL 

  • No penalties, as low-quality imports unintentional 

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa 

The last consignment of imported coconut oil containing the cancer-causing component aflatoxin, still lies at the importer’s warehouses, as the final results of the investigations conducted by Sri Lanka Customs are yet pending, The Sunday Morning learnt. 

Two out of the three companies that imported the controversial coconut oil consignments that were not suitable for human consumption have re-exported their stocks, it is learnt.  

It is further learnt that the companies were not subjected to any penalty fees, as the importation of oil laden with aflatoxin was viewed as not having been done with the intention to bring down a cancerous food commodity to Sri Lanka.  

Sri Lanka Customs Media Spokesman Deputy Director (Legal) Sudaththa Silva said the investigations were hampered due to the Covid-19 situation in the country last month.  

“Once the investigations are completed, the oil stocks will be re-exported,” he added.  

Silva said investigations were being carried out into whether the released oil stocks were in the refinery or warehouses, or if any amount had reached the market.  

Accordingly, 230 MT of substandard coconut oil imported by Edirisinghe Edible Oil (Pvt.) Ltd. was already re-exported in May and the consignment was to be returned to the Malaysian company from which it was imported to Sri Lanka. 

Another stock of 105 MT of coconut oil from Katana Refineries was also re-exported in April.  

It was recently revealed that stocks of unrefined coconut oil imported by the three companies – Ali Brothers, Edirisinghe Edible Oil, and Katana Refineries – contained the carcinogen aflatoxin. 

Ali Brothers had brought down a total of 1,513.7 MT of carcinogenic coconut oil in four containers.