Over 47,000 tons of expired and contaminated cooking oil have been distributed in Iran, according to prominent Iranian whistleblower journalist Yashar Soltani.

The contaminated oil was reportedly part of a shipment bought by Iran’s state purchasing agency from Turkey and Argentina in August 2021.

The Government Trading Corporation of Iran (GCT) had purchased an overall shipment of 91,000 tons of cooking oil, which reportedly was poisoned with agricultural toxins and pesticides, according to Soltani's report.

The report, based on documents allegedly obtained from official laboratories, suggests that the shipment was tested by Iranian state laboratories four times. All results reportedly indicated that "the oils cannot be cleared for consumption" due to residue factors of agricultural toxins.

The oils were said to include chemical insecticides such as malathion, deltamethrin, piperonyl butoxide, and pirimiphos-methyl.

Consumption of chemical insecticides can pose health risks to humans. Short-term exposure to high levels of pirimiphos-methyl can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. Long-term exposure may lead to more serious health effects, including neurological damage, reproductive issues, and an increased risk of certain cancers.

Over a year after the shipment was purchased, in September 2022, a technical committee considered the sampling results "inconclusive" and voted to release the cargo of two out of three ships, which contained half the total.

In his report, Soltani noted that 47,000 tons of expired and contaminated cooking oil had entered the Iranian market. As of now, 44,000 tons remain unreleased at Bandar Abbas port in Hormozgan province, located in southern Iran.

Officials denied and replied to the allegations, but Soltani released a further update with additional evidence days later.

In a statement last Tuesday, the GCT, mentioned in Soltani's report as the importer of this shipment, denied that the oil was tainted.

"No product can be sold without the permission of Iran’s Food and Drug Organization (IFDA) and the Iran National Standards Organization (INSO). Without approval from these organizations, a product will not qualify for distribution and consumption," the statement read.

Bandar Abbas's prosecutor also objected, stating to Iranian media that "The released oils had permission from IFDA, but the 44,000-ton cargo of contaminated oil is not cleared and is still kept in the port."

Another official, the Chief Justice of Hormozgan, echoed the denials by saying a "shipment of 44,000 tons of oil worth 70 million euros" was seized, and "the seller offered to take it back."

The IFDA also denied authorizing any contaminated products last week.

The investigative journalist, known for uncovering corruption among Islamic Republic officials, reacted to the denials on Thursday and emphasized the role of IFDA as the main culprit.

The IFDA, operating as part of the Iranian government’s Health Ministry, falls under the purview of current President Ebrahim Raisi.

Soltani criticized officials for focusing solely on the unreleased cargoes and demanded an explanation for why half of them had already entered the market.

“The IFDA’s head should take responsibility for the situation more than anyone else,” Soltani wrote on his website.

He presented further documents that demonstrated that in the IFDA system, the shipments are still labeled "waiting for permit."

“How can these products enter the market without IFDA authorization?...The main issue remains. In all four tests, several agricultural toxins were found in these products and declared not suitable for human consumption. But suddenly, the IFDA decided to import half into the Iranian market.”

Soltani was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 for investigating corruption in municipal real-estate sales in Tehran. In 2019, he was released on bail after being charged with "spreading lies" and "gathering classified information with the intent to harm national security."

The whistleblower also exposed the reported financial corruption by a prominent cleric appointed by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as Tehran's Friday Imam in March.

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