THE Ministry of Health will impose a $50,000 fine or 10 years imprisonment on restaurants that sell cheap used cooking oil to the public.
Health Minister, Dr Neil Sharma said they were working under schedule 2 of the Food Safety Act 2003 for this new issue that needed to be curbed.
"This fine is now in full force and will be imposed on any offender convicted under this offence," Dr Sharma said.
The ministry's reaction followed the Consumer Council of Fiji's warning to the public to refrain from buying used cooking oil from market vendors nationwide.
Council's chief executive officer, Premila Kumar said they were alerted to bottles of used cooking oil retailing at $2.50 for one 1.25ml bottle at the Suva Market.
"It is generally fastfood outlet which uses oil for frying. The council interviewed market vendors selling the used oil who revealed their main source was the named fastfood outlet," Ms Kumar said.
Dr Sharma said it deteriorated in terms of quality because of rancidity — having the disagreeable odour or taste of decomposing oils or fats.
"MOH is being vigilant now and will stop any restaurant around the country doing this unethical and unscrupulous business practices. The maximum fine is $50,000," Dr Sharma said.
He said this was not a new issue in Fiji and they had been cautioning restaurants owners and workers during their food safety awareness training last year.
He said they were now engaging with health inspectors in the 16 rural local authorities, 12 town councils and two city councils to make people aware of this.