Bad, worse, palm oil

Bad, worse, palm oil

Saara Aarnio

Palm oil is known especially for its negative effects on the environment as the rainforests crucial for our planet are ruthlessly destroyed to give way for palm oil plantations. This irreversibly destroys the habitat of local plants and animals. Now palm oil is taking the final blow as the European Food Safety Authority EFSA and The World Health Organization WHO warn about the cancer risks of the palm oil used as foodstuff.

Heating ruins palm oil

The topic was in the news earlier this spring in the Finnish media such as the newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus. Harmful chemical compounds are formed when palm oil is heated during the cleansing process. According to Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, palm oil is not harmful in itself but the problems occur when it is heated to 200 ℃. Heating splits the fats into other compounds such as GE, 3-mcpd and 2-mcpd. Animal testing has shown that these compounds cause damage to the kidneys.

The same problem related to heating concerns all cleansed food oils which contain the same fatty acids as palm oil. However, in the case of palm oil, the level of the dangerous compounds forms a threat to health. No such threat exists in the case of cold-pressed oils.

The palm oil contains glycidol which is a carcinogen

The palm oil often used in fast foods was criticized by Helle Knutsen, the chair of the EU committee researching food oils. In the press release of the committee, Knutsen warned especially small children and people under the age of 18 about the risks of using palm oil. According to Knutsen, there is enough evidence backing up the fact that the glycidol which palm oil contains causes cancer. In addition to fast food, the harmful compounds in palm oil can also be found in pastries, formula and other processed foods.

The risks have been known for over a decade, but the producers of palm oil have ignored the recommendations from authorities to voluntarily reduce the amount of carcinogens in cleansed palm oil.

Europe can be expected to react after summer the latest

The European Food Safety Authority EFSA is going to set up limits for the use of palm oil after the summer. In the spring 2018, Italy already withdrew a part of products containing palm oil from the market.

More information on the topic:

- MT: Terveysriskeistä varoiteltua palmuöljyä lähes kaikissa leipälevitteissä

- Nutella syöpäriskiepäilyjen kourissa - valmistaja torjuu väitteet

- Onko ruoassasi haitallista palmuöljyä? Evira suosittelee käytön rajoittamista

Sources:

Palmuöljy voi aiheuttaa syöpää - EU rajoittaa käyttöä syksyllä (Palm oil can cause cancer - EU limits the usage in the autumn), Veikko Niittymaa, Maaseudun Tulevaisuus. Published March 28, 2018, https://www.maaseuduntulevaisuus.fi/ruoka/palmuoljy-voi-aiheuttaa-syopaa-eu-rajoittaa-kayttoa-syksylla

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