FLAP OVER SUNFLOWER OIL

After ordering shops and supermarkets to remove sunflower cooking oil suspected of being contaminated from their shelves last Friday, Health Minister Bernat Soria called for calm the following day, saying the situation was under control. He said the order would be lifted as soon as the brands affected by hydrocarbons detected in batches of the oil from the Ukraine were identified. Sr Soria said the risk of contamination is “minimal” but advised people not to throw away the sunflower oil they have at home until it is known which brands, if any, are affected. The problem started in Ilyichevsk in the Ukraine where the sunflower oil was mixed with cheaper mineral oils before being shipped to France, Spain, Italy and Holland. Records show that some 14,000 tons of the contaminated have entered the country since February, but it is not yet known if the oil has already been distributed. Reports from France and Holland show that the most of the contaminated batches which arrived there are still sitting in containers on the docks of the ports of arrival. The European Commission has said that the adulterated oil is not dangerous to health. A spokesman for the Union of Farmers and Stockbreeders said it made no difference whether the oil is already on sale or not. He said: “The damage has already been done. By causing what apparently seems to be a storm in a teacup, the government has landed the cooking oil industry on its back. People will shy away from buying sunflower oil for the foreseeable future.” He said this would do a lot of harm to an industry which employs a lot of people.

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