Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Palm Oil to Dye For

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis

Dangerous red dye keeps showing up in palm oil.

Decernis, Food Fraud, Palm Oil
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Sudan IV, a diazo dye widely used to stain fuel and industrial grease, is a carcinogen and therefore unsuitable for human consumption. In a recent case in Ghana, it was added to palm oil to achieve the typical reddish-brown color. Adulteration of palm oil is a recurring issue that has been taking place across Asian and African brands, including products sold in Europe, and authorities keep warning of the consumption of the tarnished palm oil.


  1. Times of Malta (June 28, 2019). “Palm oil contains dangerous dye, authorities warn”.

Additional Resources

  1. FDA food alert, April 2018, Palm oil recall due to the presence of Sudan IV
  2. Swiss government warns of cancerous palm oil, January 2018. Palm Oil adulteration with Sudan IV. Origin of the oil is unknown but most likely an African producer
  3. CFA Alert, August 2017, Food recall: Palm oil adulterated with Sudan IV

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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis

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