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The quality of crude palm oil sold in major markets in Enugu state was assessed. The objectives were to collect information on production, processing and storage of crude palm oil from sellers in the selected major markets, to determine the peroxide value, free fatty acid value, beta-carotene level and Deterioration of Bleachability index (DOBI) of crude palm oil. The study design employed cross sectional survey and experimental studies. A three-stage sampling technique was used in selection of the subjects (palm oil sellers). In the first stage, three local government areas were selected. In the second stage, one major market was selected from each of the local government areas and they include; Ogbete, Eke Agbani and Garki markets. In the third stage, nine (three from each market) oil sellers were identified and interviewed. Subsequently, nine oil samples were randomly selected (three from each market). The nine oil samples were subjected to the following analyses; peroxide value, Free Fatty Acid (FFA), Deterioration of Bleachability Index (DOBI) and Beta-carotene determination using standard methods. It was deduced that, majority (55.6%) of the oil sellers do not produce the oil themselves and 44.4% who produce the oil on their own, process their palm fruits traditionally within 2 to 5 days after harvest. In addition, 66.67% of the respondents do not add additives to the palm oil and all (100%) the respondents store their oil in plastic containers. The analytical result revealed that, the FFA and beta-carotene mean values ranged from 10.95 to 15.86mgKOH/g and 4086.56 to 4163.88mg/kg respectively. The free fatty acid (FFA) and beta-carotene levels were of real concern, as the oil samples from Ogbete, Eke Agbani and Garki markets did not comply with recommended levels of 3.5mgKOH/g and 500 –2000mg/kg respectively. The peroxide values and the Deterioration of Bleachability Index mean values range from 4.73 to 10.07Meq/kg and 2.52 to 3.72 respectively. All the samples investigated were in compliance with recommended levels regarding Peroxide Value and Deterioration of Bleachability Index, thus confirming the good oxidative stability and good bleaching property of the crude palm oil samples. The high FFA and beta-carotene values of the nine crude oil samples could be due to poor hygienic and storage practices hence, there is need to raise public awareness on the palm oil processing practices and hygiene.


Title page                                                                                                                    i

Certification                                                                                                                ii

Dedication                                                                                                                  iii

Acknowledgement                                                                                                      iv

Table of content                                                                                                          v

Abstract                                                                                                                      vi



1.1 Background of the study                                                                                      1

1.2 Statement of the problem                                                                                     5

1.3 Objective of the study                                                                                          6

1.3.1 General objective of the study                                                                           6

1.3.2 Specific objectives of the study                                                                         7

1.4 Significance of the study                                                                                      7



2.1 Palm oil                                                                                                                 9

2.1.1 Botanical Information on Palm Oil                                                                    10

2.1.2 Production and Utilization of Palm Oil in Nigeria                                            12

2.3 Nutrient content of palm oil                                                                                 14

2.3.1 Contaminants in Palm Oil and the implication for human health                      15

2.3.2 Presence of Sudan IV chemical Dry in Crude Palm Oil                                    17

2.4 Quality Characteristics of palm oil                                                                       17

2.5 Health benefits of palm oil                                                                                   18

2.5.1 Nutritional benefits of palm oil                                                                          22

2.5.2 Free fatty acids content (FFA)                                                                          23

2.5.3 Determination of peroxide value                                                                       23

2.5.4 Deterioration of bleachability index of palm oils                                              24

2.5.5 Determination of carotene value                                                                        25

2.6 Effects of carotenoids on human health                                                               25

2.6.1 Effects of tocopherols and tocotrienols on human health                                 26

2.6.2 Free Fatty Acids and Human Health                                                                 27

2.6.3 Peroxide value                                                                                                   29

2.6.4 Determination of peroxide value                                                                       29


MATERIALS AND METHODS                                      

3.1 Study design                                                                                                         30

3.2 Area of study                                                                                                        30

3.3 Sampling techniques                                                                                             31

3.4 Method of data collection                                                                                    31

3.4.1 Collection and preparation of samples for laboratory analysis                          32

3.5 Laboratory analysis                                                                                               32

3.5.1 Determination of free fatty acid            (FFA)                                                             32

3.5.2 Determination of peroxide value                                                                       33

3.5.3 Determination of Carotene value (pro-vitamin A)                                             34

3.5.4 Determination of Deterioration of Bleachability Index                                    34

3.6 Statistical analysis                                                       35



4.1 Production, Processing and storage of Palm Oil by the sellers                             36

4.2 Peroxide values of the palm oil samples                                                               38

4.3 Free Fatty Acid (FFA) values of the oil samples                                                  40

4.4 Deterioration of Bleachability Index (DOBI) of the oil samples                         42

4.5 Beta-Carotene Content of the crude palm oil samples                                         44



5.1 Conclusion                                                                                                            46       

5.2 Recommendations                                                                                                46












Table 2.1: Food and Non Food Uses of Palm Oil……………………………………..14

Table 4.1: Frequency Distribution of Crude Palm Oil Sellers………………………...37

Table 4.2: Peroxide values (MeqO2/kg) of Palm Oil Samples…………………….......39

Table 4.3: Free Fatty acids (FFA) values (%) of Palm Oil Samples………………….41

Table 4.4: Deterioration of Bleachability Index of Palm Oil Samples………………..43

Table 4.5: Beta-Carotene values (mg/kg) of Palm Oil Samples………………………45










Palm oil is one of the most consumed edible oils within the tropics. In Nigeria, it forms the basic food ingredient of every household. It is a product of oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis), an ancestral cash crop tree of African origin. It is believed to have spread to various countries by farmers who practiced shifting cultivation. History has shown that human use of palm oil may be dated as far back as 5000 years in West Africa (Kiple and Conee,2000). All over the globe, palm oil has become one of the leading sources of income especially in Africa and Asia, with a special reference to Malaysia where it has become the most relied on source of revenue for the government. In tropical Africa, South-East Asia and parts of Brazil, palm oil is a common cooking ingredient, while in commercial industries, it is used for manufacturing soaps, washing powder, and other products (Bellis,2005).The oil is extracted from the mesocarp of the fruit.

Since 2006, palm oil has become the world’s most important edible oil (Udensi et al., 2007). It is also a source of energy and fat deposits which insulate the body against loss of heat and also protects the vital organs against mechanical injury (Baku et al.,2012). Palm oil is an important food source to humans because it supplies essential fatty acids such as linoleic and arachidonic acid and also contains large amounts of tocotrienol which is a part of the vitamin E family (Bonnie and Choo,2000).

In Nigeria, the demand for palm oil has been on the rise due to the rising population and the need to meet international market demand. This has necessitated an increase in the manual and traditional process of production which is predominantly carried out by villagers with little or no knowledge of aseptic techniques. There has been speculation that the potential harmful effects of unrefined traditionally processed palm oil could outweigh its nutritional benefits since these oils could be containing some components that enhance numerous reactions involved in the degradation of the product (Tagoe et al.,2012).

Palm oils is an essential nutrient in both human and animal diets and provide the most concentrated source of energy of any foodstuff. The principle function of oils in food is that it enhances stability and taste of food (Pachecoet al., 2017). The fruit produces two unique types of oils orange-red crude palm oil which is extracted from the mesocarp and brownish yellow crude palm kernel oil extracted from the seeds (kernel).  Both oils are important in the world trade. Palm oil is an important vegetable oil which has an increasing consumer interest in West Africa. It contains approximately 50% saturated fats and 40% unsaturated fats. The light orange-red colour of palm oil is due to the fat soluble caretenoids, which are responsible for the high vitamin A content (Ugwu et al., 2002). These essential fatty acids help to lower blood cholesterol levels in the body. It is the richest vegetable oil source of tocotrienols – which are potent forms of vitamin E. Vitamin E strengthens the immune system, and protects skin cells from toxins and ultraviolet radiation (Ugwu et al., 2002). From its reddish-orange colour, palm oil is also a good source of β-carotene, a nutrient found in sweet potatoes, carrots, and other orange coloured foods. β-Carotene is useful as a precursor to vitamin A (retinol) in the body, it is a powerful antioxidant and act to reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart diseases (Tanumiharjo, 2002).The high nutritional value especially, its high oil content greatly predisposes it to deterioration.The carotenoids (500–700ppm) are responsible for the characteristic deep orange-red color. Vegetable oils in food technology composition properties and uses (Gunstone, 2011), while its semi-solid consistency at tropical room temperature is mainly due to the presence of triacylglycerols of palmitic and oleic acids (Gee, 2010a). Fats and oils store the majority of the energy in most animals and plants. Fats and oil are found in both plants and animals and are components of one of the major food groups in our diet. Sources of oil include coconut oil, corn oil, olive oil, palm oil, peanut and safflower oil (Gordon, 2012).

In recent years there has been rising production (supply) and consumption (demand) of palm oil in Nigeria, with demand growing faster than the supply. As a result, the trend has been that of increasing domestic consumption unequally matched by a rather slow growth in production. This widening gap between demand and production has also been accompanied by increasing reports (from the media) of adulteration (Aparicio and Aparicio-Ruiz, 2000).

The quality of palm oil could be affected by improper post-harvest handling, processing and storage techniques. Again there is a wide spread speculation that palm oil is adulterated for the sole purpose of profit maximization. The adulteration ranges from the use of colours, dyes, water and other illegal food additives which could affect the quality of palm oil in terms of nutritive value, wholesomeness, utilization, safety and shelf-life.

Adulteration is the process in which the quality of food is reduced by addition of inferior quality material. It includes the intentional addition of the inferior material during the period of growth, storage, processing, transport and distribution of the food products. It is also responsible for the lowering of the quality of food products. The expert put to use in the production of this oil has made it practically impossible to physically differentiate between a good palm oil and the fake. Many consumers look for redness before buying their palm oil. Of course, that is one major attribute of the oil. Often times, these improperly made bottles of oil are more expensive than the properly made ones as consumers tends to rush them (CSPI, 2006). Adulterants are those substances which are used for making the food products unsafe for human consumption.

Technical palm oil (TPO) account for 25%, on average of total fat supply in Nigeria between 1990 and 2009. Despite all the good nutritional health benefits Nigerians get from palm oil (technical palm oil), not much attention has been given to assess the quality of palm oil sold in the market and consumed by households. Some nutritional quality parameters have been associated with oils. These include peroxide value, free fatty acid, and deterioration of Bleachability Index, carotene and contaminant level. They are associated with all levels of production, storage and preservation of palm oil (Udensi and  Iroegbe, 2007).  

The adulteration is believed to be practiced by producers in order to increase the quantity of crude palm oil (CPO), for the sole purpose of profit maximization. Unfortunately, the adulteration practice is normally done without considering its possible effect on the quality of palm oil and the health of consumers.

This study is hence aimed at determining the level of the above mentioned quality parameters from palm oil samples collected from major markets in Enugu State, Nigerian in order to ascertain their safety level.


The quality of palm oil could be affected by improper post-harvest handling, processing and storage technique. Again there is a wide spread speculation that palm oil is adulterated for the sole purpose of profit maximization.

High free fatty acid values and peroxide values are useful indicators of quality of oils and predispose one to cardiovascular diseases (CVD) with habitual intake ( Reddy et al 2001). Other indicators include Deterioration of bleachability Index and beta-carotene levels. This has led to increasing rate of mortality and morbidity (Beaglehole and Yach, 2013). Cardiovascular diseases develop at different rates in different individuals based on a variety of factors. High blood pressure, abnormal blood cholesterol levels (high LDL “bad” cholesterol and or low HDL “good” cholesterol), smoking, diabetes, male gender, and hereditary factors all independently increase the risk of CVD developing earlier in life. Other risk factors include levels of saturated fat and cholesterol intake (whether the blood cholesterol levels are abnormal or not), being overweight, being sedentary, the use of cocaine, and high levels of other chemicals in the blood, like homocysteine. Each of these factors causes damage to the arterial lining (WHO, 2002).

The cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the world is enormous and growing, and the majority of those affected are in developing countries (Beaglehole and Yach, 2013).  In 2002, it was estimated that 29 percent of deaths worldwide (12.7 million deaths) were due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and that 42 percent of global morbidity  and mortality, measured in disability adjusted life years (DALYs), was caused by CVD (WHO, 2002).  Furthermore, 72% percent of global mortality and 86 percent of mortality and morbidity from CVD occurs in developing countries. Free fatty acid content of palm oil is the most used index for determining the quality of palm oil and must not exceed 5% (expressed as palmitic acid) according to Codex Alimentarius/FAO/WHO (2005). Different extraction methods and major processing activities like transportation, fermentation prior to threshing, clarification and storage can equally increase the free fatty acid value of crude palm oil (Ohimain, 2012).

The major source of obtaining crude palm oil is through the traditional markets which is three times higher than the industrial demand (Basiron, 2007).Despite the good nutritional and health benefits Nigerians get from crude palm oil, not much attention has been given to assessment of the nutritional quality parameters of palm oil sold especially in major markets of Enugu state hence, the need to evaluate some quality parameters like free fatty acid, peroxide value, beta-carotene level and deterioration of bleachability index in palm oil samples collected from major markets in Enugu State.


1.3.1 General Objectives of the Study

The general objective of the study was to assess the quality of crude palm oil samples sold in major markets in Enugu state.


The Specific Objectives are to:

1.               Collect information on production, processing and storage of crude palm oil from palm     oil sellers in major markets in Enugu State.

2.               Assess the peroxide value of crude palm oil samples collected from major markets in the   study area.

3.               Determine the carotene value of crude palm oil samples collected from major markets in    the study area.

4.               Determine the free fatty acid value of crude palm oil samples collected from major            markets in the study area.

5.               Determine the deterioration of bleachability index of crude palm oil samples collected       from major markets in the study area.


1.               This study will provide information to researchers on quality characteristics   of palm oil    marketed and consumed in Enugu state.

2.               This study will help marketers in knowing the best palm oil samples based on         deterioration of bleach ability index values.

3.               This study will help nutritionists and dietitians in counseling patients on quality of palm    oil sold in the markets and their health implications.

4.               This study will help government, non-governmental organizations and health          enforcement bodies to do more extensive researches that could provide further evidence        to enforce standard safety rules concerning palm oil production, storage and preservation            among palm oil producers.

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