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The quality of palm oil samples obtained from different markets in Abia North senatorial Zone, Nigeria were examined in terms of physicochemical properties.  The result obtained showed that the saponification value (SV) ranged from 176.80 - 200.30 of oil. The free fatty acid (FFA) of the palm oil sample ranged from 2.16 - 3.84%, the peroxide value (P.V) ranged from 4.96-6.28meq/kg, the melting point ranged from 15.40-36.900C, carotenoid content ranged from 149.70 – 1134.10mg/kg, moisture content of the oil samples ranged from 0.260 – 0.690%, the specific gravity ranged from 1.390-1.459g/cm3, the smoke point ranged from 113.45-117.80oc, the impurity level ranged from 0.13-0.19%, the unsaponifiable matter ranged from 7.38-7.87g/kg and the iodine value (I.V) ranged from 75.86-90.16. The result obtained after the statistical analysis showed that there were no significant differences in the saponification value, free fatty acid value, iodine value, moisture content, unsaponifiable matters, smoke points and melting point of the palm oil samples. However there was marked differences in the the values of the impurity level, peroxide value of the samples and the carotenoid contents (185.60 – 1134.10mg/kg).


Title Page                 i

Certification ii

Dedication      iii

Acknowledgement        iv

Table of Content                     v

List of Tables      vi

Abstract          ix


1.1 Background of the study              1

1.2 Statement of the problem                                                                                                 7

1.3 Objective of the study                                                                                                       7

1.4 Significant of the study                                                                                        8


2.1 An over view of palm oil              9

2.1.1Botanical information on Palm Oil                     13

2.1.2 Food and non -food uses of palm oil                 14

2.1.3 Nutrient content of palm oil      15

2.1.4 Impurity and contaminants in palm oil                                                  15

2.2Anti-oxidants in palm oil                                                                                       16

2.2.1Carotene Value                                                                                                               16

2.2.2Effects of carotenoids                                                                                        16

2.2.3Effects of Tocopherols and Tocotrienol                                                 17

2.2.4Fatty acids                                                                                                                      18

2.2.5 Free Fatty acids                                                                                                 19

2.2.6 Peroxide Value                                                                                                               19

2.2.7 Sterols                                                                                                                20

2.2.8. Polar Lipids                                                                                                       20

2.2.9Phenols                                                                                                                            20

2.3 Food uses of palm oil                                                                                            21

2.3.1 Margarines                                                                                                         21

2.3.2Shortenings                                                                                                         21

2.3.3 Vanaspati                                                                                                                       21

2.3.4 Frying Fats                                                                                                         21

2.3.5 ConfectioneryFats                                                                                             22

2.4 Benefits of Palm Oil                                                                                             22

2.4.1 Controversies of Palm Oil                                                                                  23

2.4.2 Effects of Palm Oil on Health                                                                           23


3.1 Study area                                                                                                             25

3.2 Study Design                                                                                                        26

3.3 Sampling Techniques                                                                                            26

3.4 Collection of Samples                                                                                           26

3.5Laboratory Analysis                                                                                               26

3.5.1 Melting Points                                                                                                    27       

3.5.2Iodine Value Determination                                                                               27

3.5.3Free Fatty Acid Determination                                                               27       

3.5.4Determination of Saponification Value                                                  28

3.5.5 Determinationof Peroxides Value                                                                     29

3.5.6 Determination of Carotene Value                                                                                  29

3.5.7 Moisture content determination                                                                         30


3.5.8 Impurity determination                           30

3.5.9 Specific gravity determination                                                                                       31

3.6 Statistical Data Analysis                                                                                       31


4.1 Free fatty acids content of the palm oil samples                                                              32

4.2 Melting Points Content of Palm Oil Sample                                                        34

4.3 Saponification Value of Palm Oil Samples                                                           35

4.4 Peroxide Values of Palm Oil Samples                                                                              36

4.5 Specific gravity of palm oil samples                                                                                 38

4.6 Iodine Value of Palm Oil Samples                                                                                   39

4.7 Carotenoid Content of palm oil samples                                                                          41

4.8 Moisture content of palm oil                                                                                               42

4.9 Smoke points of palm oil samples                                                                         43

4.10 Impurity level of palm oil samples                                                                                  44

4.11 Unsaponifiable matters of palm oil samples                                                                   45


5.1 Conclusion                                                                                                                        48

5.2 Recommendation                                                                                                              48

REFERENCES          49









Table 4.1: Free Fatty acids (FFA), Melting points, Saponification values, Iodine values, Peroxides values and Specific gravity of palm oil samples                        31

Table 4.2: β-carotene, moisture content, smoke points, impurity level and unsaponifiable matters of palm oil samples                                                   40











1.1   Background of the Study                      

The oil palms (Elaeis) comprise two species of the Aracaceae family. They are used in commercial agriculture in the production of palm oil. The African oil palm
(Elaeisguineensis) is native to West Africa, the palm fruit takes five to six month to mature from pollination to maturity. Nigeria used to be the world’s largest producer of oil palm (Elaeisguineensis), before the crude oil boom era and now Malaysia has taken the leading position (Onwubuyaet al., 2012).  The fruit is reddish and each fruit is made up of an oily, fleshy outer layer (the pericarp), with a single seed (the palm kernel) also rich in oil. Oil is extracted from both the pulp of the fruit and the kernel. Palm oil plant is the highest oil producing plant, Ngandoet al., (2011) estimated an average of 3.5tonnes of oil in a year. The oil is extracted from the mesocarp of the fruit. Since 2006, palm oil has become the world’s most important edible oil (Udensi and Iroegbu, 2007). Mathew (2009) stated that many plantations of oil palm have and are being established in West Africa, but most palm produce is obtained from growing wild. The bulk of palm oil that is produced goes into food applications; hence its nutritional properties have been extensively studied. Palm oil is currently the second largest traded edible oil and accounts for about one quarter of the world’s fats and oil supply (Ibekwe,2008).

The palm fruit (ElaeisguineensisJacq.) is the source of both palm oil (extracted from the palm fruit) and palm kernel oil (extracted from the fruit seeds) (Edem, 2002; Lin, 2011). Berger (2005) opined that Malaysia, Indonesia and Nigeria are the major producers of palm oil. According to Akusuet al. (2000) in Nigeria the oil is extracted by different methods in different locations, and this oil production is an important support of home agriculture. Palm fruit oil processing in Abia may be categorized into two methods; traditional and industrial. In both methods, palm plantations are often very far from local processing plants. The palm fruit is harvested when the fruits are ripe. The fruit is manually threshed by cutting the fruit laden spikelets from the bunch stem with an axe and then separating the fruit from the spikelets by hand. The fruit is then transported by human, animal or truck for delivery in the courtyards of industries and/or farms, which means a week or more before processing (Gomes et al., 2010). According to traditional methods, the fruit processing is followed by maceration and pilling, or an animal-driven instrument that consists of a stone or cement wheel that crushes oil from the palm fruits (Mesquita, 2002). The mixture is placed with water in a half gallon container or any vessel that can be heated. After extraction, the recovered oil is heated again to remove the residual water and, when cool, is bottled and stored for consumption (Gomes et al., 2010).

 In Nigeria, palm oil tree grows in the coastal belt of Nigeria which varies in depth from 100 to 150 miles and a riverine belt which follows the valleys of the Niger and Benue for a distance of about 450miles from the sea and naturally, production of palm oil usually occurs along these locations (Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2002).

Palm oil is naturally reddish in colour because it contains a high amount of beta carotene. Palm oil has been used in food preparation for over 5,000 years (Poku, 2002). Chandraseklamet al. (2000) reported that it is the most widely produced edible vegetable oil in the world and it’s nutritional and health attributes have been well documented. Palm oil is usually one of the products produced from the oil palm tree which is a perennial crop that originates from the tropical rain forest of west African.

The main palm oil producing states in Nigeria include Cross River, Abia, AkwaIbom, Imo, Rivers, Anambra, Enugu, Ogun, Delta, Edo, Oyo and Ekiti (FAO, 2002).

Market and Oil

The marketers and consumers of the products play a significant role in the overall acceptance of such product by the final consumers. It is the role of the marketers to transport palm oil produced in oil palm densely produced area (Izah et al., 2014)).

Ohimainand Izah (2014) emphasized that marketers can also encourage consumers to patronize palm oil produced locally. Though it’s very difficult to determine the palm oil imported and the ones produced locally at the market level. The marketers usually buy the palm oil in large quantity and store them in 20 liters’ jerry cans, Izahet al. (2014) reported that during storage, the palm oil could also get degraded by the activities of microorganisms, thereby, leading to changes in its quality assessment. The microbial quality could also be impaired during marketing especially during retailing. Containers, plates, bottles are used for selling palm oil and sometimes the microbial quality of the materials used in selling are not put into consideration by the marketers (Ohimain and Izah, 2014). This is common phenomenon in busy markets especially during wet season in rural areas in Nigeria (Ekine and Onu, 2008).

There is a wide spread speculation that palm oil is being 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 lowered either by addition of inferior quality material or by extraction of valuable ingredient. It not only includes the intentional addition or substitution of the substances but biological and chemical contamination during the period of growth, storage, processing, transport and distribution of the food products, is also responsible for the lowering or degradation of the quality of food products. The expertise 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. Oftentimes, these improperly made bottles or kegs of oils are more expensive than the properly made ones as consumers tends to rush them unknowingly (Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), (2005). Adulterants are those substances which are used for making the food products unsafe for human consumption.

The quality of crude palm oil (CPO) is essential in determining its applications. The quality is associated with the method of processing. In Nigeria, there are three types of oil palm processors, traditional (mostly manual), semi-mechanized andmechanized processors (Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (FPIND, 2011). To a larger extent, smallholder/traditional processor dominate the sector accounting about 80%, smallholders use rudimentary/ manual/traditional equipment for processing (Ohimainet al., 2012). According to Okechaluet al. (2011) smallholder processors maintain low level of hygiene in the processing mills. These have resulted to low quality of CPO. The major processing activities irrespective of kind of processing that could affect the quality of CPO produced include bruises during transportation, fermentation prior to threshing, clarification and storage (Ohimain and Izah, 2013b).

According to Akinolaet al. (2010) CPO is orange red to brownish or yellow-red in color, semi-solid at room temperature and is highly saturated. Palmitic acid increases in palm oil are mostly associated with oils produced from over-ripe, bruised and crushed fruits, fruits subjected to severe impacts from loading and off-loading bunches and oils stored over long periods (Tagoe, 2008).

The importance of quality palm oil in our diet cannot be overemphasized. It is the main vegetable oil consumed in the world today, accounting for 33% of all oils consumed globally, closely followed by soya oil with 31% (Iceland Stock Exchange (ISEX, 2014).Grapevine (2008) reported that in the previous decade, world palm oil consumption has more than doubled from around 16.7 million tonnes in 1997/98 to over 40 million tonnes in 2007/08 and this figure is estimated to surpass 70 million tonnes by 2020. Palm oil is very nutritious. They are useful for bone, joint, and skin health. Not only is palm oil a rare source of medium chain fatty acids, it is also a source of healthy unsaturated fats. It is a well-balanced fat, with 39% oleic acid (omega-9) and 10% linoleic acid (omega-6) (Ugwuet 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 (Ugwuet 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 foods.

Ugwuet al. (2002) stressed that palm oil contains fat soluble carotenoids which are responsible for its high vitamin A content. 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 cancer and heart diseases (Tanumiharjo, 2002).The high nutritional value especially its high oil content greatly predisposes it to deterioration. Tagoe (2008) opined that the quality of palm fruits, processing techniques, handling and storage are critical points to be considered in the production of quality palm oil. This is in a bid to minimize the mould load, free fatty acids (FFA), aflatoxin contents, moisture content and other anti-nutritional and deteriorating factors as their presence especially in high values exceeding permissible levels, reduces quality which are undesirable and hazardous to health of consumers. Moulds are known to effect various biochemical changes in all classes of crops (Tagoe, 2008).A relatively new output from the oil palm fruit is the water soluble phenolic flavonoid rich antioxidant complex, which has potent antioxidant properties coupled with beneficial effects against skin, breast and other cancer.

 Its water solubility is being currently tested for use as nutraceutical and in cosmetics with potential benefits against skin aging (Sundram, 2003). Various microorganisms have been implicated in the deterioration of palm oil and other vegetable oils examples,Aspergillusflavus, A. niger, A fumigatus, Penicillumfrequentans, Rhizopusstoloniferand others. According to Okechaluet al. (2011) these moulds have lipolytic activities and their growth results in lipolysis (spoilage) of the palm oil. In general, the rate of lipolysis is proportional to the amount of the free fatty acid already present in the oil. Frying and cooking of the oil can reduce the microbial load to the minimum level, but the fact that some individuals consume this product raw is of concern as this may result in health problems in such individuals when the microbial load is high (Okechaluet al., 2011).

Apart from moulds capable of digesting and exhausting nutrient content of crops, more to be feared is the added danger of aflatoxin production in the oils. Aflatoxins are highly undesirable in palm oil as they are very toxic and carcinogenic compounds that have been implicated as causative agents in human hepatic carcinogenesis. High saponification as well as high moisture in palm oil samples is equally undesirable. High saponification value in palm oil is an indication that the oil is more suitable for soap making than for consumption. While high moisture predisposes palm oil to quick deterioration and spoilage as it provides an enabling environment for microbial proliferation and activity (Enemuor et al., 2012).

1.1         Statement of Problem

Adulteration is posing a serious threat to edible oil trade in Abia North Senatorial Zone.There are a lot of palm oil in the markets nowadays that when used in cooking, it doesn’t give the desired taste and colour. Because palm oil has high nutritional value and is also important in socio economic activities, it is very necessary to examine the quality of palm oil that is consumed by the local communities in Abia North Senatorial Zone.

1.2    Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to assess the quality of the palm oil sold in major markets in Abia North Senatorial Zone, Nigeria.

The specific objectives are to:

1.      determine the percentage of free fatty acid.

2.      determine the saponification value.

3.      determine the iodine value.

4.      access the peroxide level.

5.      access the melting point.

6.      determine the carotenoid value.

7.      determine the moisture content.

8.      access the smoke point.

9.      access the impurity level.

10.  determine the specific gravity.

11.  determine the unsaponifiable matters.


1.3   Significance of the Study

This study will serve as a reference for governmental and non-governmental organization board to research extensively to provide sufficient researched work concerning palm oil production, storage, handling and preservation.

This study will help consumers and marketers to know the best palm oil and what happens around palm oil production and marketing.

This study will make effort to identify the nutritive value of palm oil produced and sold in markets.


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