Turkish court gives prison time over sunflower seed oil fraud
Eray Görgülü – GAZİANTEP
A Turkish court has handed down a one year jail sentence to the owner of a firm over sunflower seed oil fraud.
Vegetable Oils and Fats Industrialists Association (BYSD) head Tahir Büyükhelvacıgil told daily Hürriyet that the court’s ruling established a precedent for fraud cases. “The era of ‘I pay the fine and continue my way’ has finished,” he said.
During an inspection of a company in the southeastern province of Gaziantep back in 2015, authorities detected adulteration in sunflower seed oil with a cheaper kind of soybean oil.
It led the BYSD and provincial directorate of agriculture to take the case to judicial authorities, accusing the company of “producing a good whose context has been adulterated in a way putting people’s lives and health in danger.”
An expert team assigned by the court examined the case and prepared a report.
“The producer should show the content of the [relevant] product on its price tag and inform the customer as per the relevant regulation. Products such as soya bean and its variations, milk and its variations, eggs and peanuts might constitute a health risk for customers who have allergic sensitivities towards them. When the legal regulations about the product and analysis reports were analyzed, we came to the conclusion that soya bean could be harming human health and posing allergic risks,” the report said.
Following the release of the report, the Gaziantep 4th Criminal Court of First Instance in March handed down a prison term of one year, one month and 10 days as well as a punitive fine for the firm’s owner. The jail term has been suspended and the convict is subject to a supervision period of 1.5 years.
BYSD head Büyükhelvacıgil told daily Hürriyet that similar cases were until now being considered within the framework of misdemeanor offense, which meant the accused were imposed financial penalties, but for the first time, such a case was handled within the framework of a different nature of offense, “danger to health public.”