EFSA warns against refined palm oil. – Food Pharmacy

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EFSA warns against refined palm oil.

We still remember when the Swedish parliament passed a trans fat ban back in 2011, how it generated a sense of safety. What we did not understand then, was that the trans fats were replaced by a cheap and bad oil – carcinogenic palm oil. 

We’re in Marbella, looking out over a palm tree. Since we’re attending a four day workshop here, we haven’t been able to keep up with the news this week. However, we did read a very interesting article about palm oil, in the Swedish newspaper SvD last Thursday.

In our book, we write a lot about how important it is to choose healthy fats, and avoid the cheap cooking oils which are produced, not because they’re good, but because they’re cheap and they last forever. Since palm oil contains a lot of saturated fats, it has long durability, and is therefore very popular in the food industry. You will find it in everything from margarine, to cookies, sauces, fried foods, ice cream, make-up, soap, washing detergent… in fact, in almost half of the pre-packed or finished products that you find in Swedish stores (especially in make-up and processed foods). Unfortunately.

Now the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says refined palm oil contains substances that may increase the risk of cancer, and cause testicle and kidney damage. EFSA experts say there is evidence that so called glycidol (or glycidyl fatty acid esters, GE), found in palm oil, is genotoxic and carcinogenic.

Unfortunately, palm oil is also used in baby formula. Dr Helle Knutsen, Chair of the EFSA team of experts, says “the exposure to GE of babies consuming solely infant formula is a particular concern as this is up to ten times what would be considered of low concern for public health”.

Studies show that repeated exposure to GE, even at low levels of exposure, increases the incidence of tumors in rats and mice, Dr Helle Knutsen continues. Luckily, the Swedish National Food Administration encourages the EU to take action and reduce the maximum level for glycidyl fatty acid esters.

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