How much do you know about the oil you cook your food in? If you’re sure about the quality of the oil you use at home, how sure can you be about the oil used at the restaurants or other eateries you visit?
Over 10,000 litres of substandard oil is made in Karachi every day. It is then supplied to small eateries and used to make soap.
Karachi’s Ibrahim Hyderi has become the biggest market for this oil.
Chicken feet, fish guts and animal fat are used in the process and the end result is oil sold for a quarter the price of regular cooking oil.
To find out how the process works, SAMAA TV visited these factories disguised themselves as people interested in purchasing this oil.
We found that they use animal fat, chicken feet and fish guts to make this oil.
At the first factory SAMAA TV visited, there were eight pots being used to heat the oil. There were over 200 drums storing the substandard product and over 20 employees working there.
The stench at the factory was so rancid and strong that it was difficult to stand there for more than a minute.
The man who sold the oil, who identified himself as Arif, confirmed that they used chicken feet and fish intestines to make it. That oil is sold for Rs37 a litre.
In another factory visited by SAMAA TV, oil was being prepared using fat. Strewn around the factory were empty packets and cartons of big name oil companies.
The residents of the area are worried about the presence of this factory in their neighbourhood. The ‘factory’ sits right in the middle of a residential area.
In this area, the oil made from fat is sold for Rs48 a litre while the one made from chicken feet and fish intestines is sold for Rs37 per litre. This is not even a quarter of the price of average cooking oil being sold in the market.
Ordinary oil is sold for between Rs160 and Rs200 per litre in the market.
That’s why this business is so dangerous. People are ready to purchase cheaper oil if it means they can save a few hundred rupees. The factories produce between 10,000 and 11,000 litres of oil every day, which is supplied throughout Karachi and to various cities in Punjab.
Some workers even told SAMAA TV that the police are on the factory owners’ payroll.
Dr Qaiser Sajjad, the secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association, said that the production of substandard oil isn’t new. “But it is very dangerous,” he warned.
We use oil in everything we eat, he said, explaining that it isn’t safe to use normal cooking oil multiple times, let alone this substandard product.
When we fry things, we often reuse oil, said Dr Sajjad. In markets, they do it even more.
But reusing frying oil too many times can make it carcinogenic, which means it could cause cancer. Using substandard oil could cause a host of other medical issues.