• Monday, July 15, 2024
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‘Less is More’ campaign exposes health dangers of unbranded cooking oil

Unbranded Oil – Devon King’s

Many Nigerian consumers are in the dark about quality cooking oil in the market as some unknowingly go for unbranded products due to what they erroneously perceive as low price. Unbranded or adulterated cooking oil has health implications. This report looks at PZ Wilmar’s efforts to sensitise the Nigerian consumer for good. Seyi John Salau writes.

Consumption of unbranded cooking oils

The rate of consumption of unbranded or adulterated cooking oil, perhaps with high cholesterol is feared to be high in Nigeria and Africa going by the prevalence of heart diseases largely caused by cholesterol in various sources of oil.

There are many cooking oils on the shelves with a few meeting the heart-friendly standards of Nigeria Heart Foundation, NHF; National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC; World Health Organisation, WHO and other regulatory bodies.

These institutions have standards for acceptable cooking oil because of the health implications of unbranded or adulterated ones. The health regulatory bodies have not failed to dish out warnings to consumers on consumption of low standard cooking oils but have also made some seizures to rid the market of adulteration.

It is worrisome that unbranded oil is deep-rooted in the Nigerian culture especially more patronised by the low income earners who, due to increased consumption, place more focus on the more quantity and less cost they get when purchasing unbranded oil.

Implications on health

But medical experts have warned against these unbranded products which obviously contain high cholesterol and are contaminated. Cholesterol, according to experts is a major risk factor for heart diseases among people of all ages. Researchers discovered that heart failure accounts for over 50% of cardiovascular-related deaths in Nigeria.

With this knowledge, the big question is, why do many consumers, especially those in the low income category, still go for the impure or unbranded cooking oil which does not have cholesterol free stamp? This is simply because of the absence of immediate consequence of the consumption of adulterated or unbranded cooking oil.

The other reasons for the spike in the consumption and sale of unbranded cooking oil in the Nigerian market are lack of consumer awareness about its health dangers and the product low cost.

But brand like Devon King’s from the staple of PZ Wilmar Food, a joint venture between PZ Cussons and Wilmar International has debunked the argument that quality means high cost as held by certain consumers. The international FMCG Company has the widest range of the most affordable cooking oil; hence there is quality cooking oil for every consumer at every budget. The 70ml pillow (Wazo) pack, for just 50 Naira, is sufficient for quick cooking. There are also 500ml, 750ml and 1000ml pillow packs.

Unfortunately, some consumers still think that quality means high cost hence they imprudently go for unbranded products without considering the long-time effects.

Usually, the consequence of the consumption of unbranded and adulterated cooking oil products takes medium to long time to manifest and that is why many people overlook the anticipated dangers.

Speaking in DTNext website, Dr. Radha K, a general practitioner, stated that adulterated oil not only causes allergies and increases cholesterol, but also gives impetus to deadly diseases such as cancer, paralysis, liver damage and cardiac arrest. She added that when people fall sick, no one really considers linking the illness with the oil they may have consumed as part of their food. “The reason for a large number of health problems is the food we consume, and it is not always about the quality of meat or vegetables but the quality of the oil the food is cooked in,” she said in the report.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC and the Nigerian Heart Foundation, NHF are also concerned on the consumption of unbranded and adulterated cooking oil as the consequences are fatal.

Nigerian Heart Foundation, for instance has regularly cautioned Nigerians against cooking with adulterated vegetable oil and warned that regular consumption of contaminated cooking oil can cause heart diseases and cancer of the stomach. “We advise Nigerians to only cook with oil that have undergone rigorous test by scientists. They can check for a sign of the heart when buying them”, the NHF once told Nigerians.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has also drawn the consumers’ attention to the dangers of consuming unbranded vegetable cooking oil in Nigeria as it also pointed towards continuous consumption of this commodity as one of the leading causes of many heart-related diseases.

Unfortunately, many of these unbranded cooking oils have no linkable source as some are packaged under unhygienic environments and therefore become susceptible to gross adulteration/contamination. These adulterated products can be found in cities and villages with unsuspecting buyers erroneously seeing them as more affordable and good for consumption.

Surprisingly, some of the products are packaged with containers previously used to store or sell chemicals and petrol. Some of these containers and pet bottles are usually picked from the dirt and not properly cleaned. “Unbranded oil causes smoke, oils could splash all over the kitchen and burn the skin, and it could also affect the taste of food. It also raises risks to diseases which mean one would have to spend more for treatment at the hospital”, an expert said.

This is why experts warned that “Consumers need to be more cautious when buying products and must go beyond merely reading the labels. We normally do not bother checking the purity of the oil we purchase. Studies have proved that loose oil is contaminated and has adverse effects on the body, and can prove to be life threatening in the long run,” said a health expert.

PZ’s ‘Less is More’ campaign

There is hardly anyone that would balk at the opportunity to have quality product at less price which gives peace of mind. This becomes more instructive when the product in question is one that safeguards lives.

It was also comforting as PZ Wilmar Food under its Devon King’s brand came up with a corporate social responsibility campaign: ‘Less is More’ aimed at sensitising Nigerians on the need for proper hygiene and consumption of healthy foods as a catalyst for good health and strong immune system.

The applauded campaign also seeks to expose the inherent dangers in the consumption of unbranded cooking oil and possibly eliminate unhealthy oil consumption while directing consumers to best alternative, Devon King’s oil.

‘Less is More’ defines the qualitative value of Devon King’s over the quantitative value placed on unbranded oil. It clearly highlights the inherent benefits of a little content of Devon’s King’s in value, health and taste, as opposed to more of unhealthy unbranded oil.

Study has shown that many consumers of unbranded oil are unaware of the listed dangers of consuming unbranded oil, while many simply consider these unbranded oils as more affordable, hence the campaign.

Therefore, the Less is More campaign seeks to expose the false premise behind the consumption of unbranded oil, sensitize about its dangers.

In addition to Devon King’s approval by NAFDAC, the product is said to have Vitamin A and it is Cholesterol free. All Devon King’s product packs are tamper-proof to ensure the quality of the oil remains till it gets to the consumer.

“PZ Wilmar has become a trusted manufacturer to deliver best quality cooking oil in branded and packaged form in an extensive range of formats and pack sizes, which are in a world class, certified modern manufacturing environment,” Marketing Manager, PZ Wilmar, Chioma Mbanugo was quoted by a national newspaper.

Reassuring consumers of tamper proof and quality of products who may be confused of faking Devon King’s, the manager said that Devon King’s vegetable oil is sold and packaged in various sizes of pet bottles and also comes in various sizes of sachets/pillow packs, 1-litre and 2-litre pet bottles, 3-litre and 5-litre kegs and 10-litre and 25-litre jerry cans.

When a brand like PZ Wilmar under its Devon King’s product sensitises Nigerian consumers on the dangers of consuming unbranded cooking oil, it is not only preserving lives, saving hospital bills for homes, reducing pressures on health facilities and checking medical tourism with associated expenses in foreign exchange but it is operating responsibly within the standard of corporate governance.

Such an amazing campaign is not only timely, but likely to elicit and create more awareness among the Nigerian populace towards slowing the rate of heart diseases and lives. The campaign is laudable.