Helps consumers understand the types of edible oils, their importance, and methods of procurement and providing a safe to consume the product

Indian Consumer Federation (ICF), a registered organization for creating awareness about consumer rights and duties and helping consumers understand the various aspects of products and its safety, organized a Forum on Edible Oils – Myths & Facts. The objective of the platform was to help the consumers understand the various aspects of the edible oil production and consumption from a panel of eminent scientists, nutritionist and the industry body Solvent Extractors Association. Eminent scientists Dr. R.B.N. Prasad, Chairperson, Scientific Panel on Oils & Fats (FSSAI), Dr. Kalpagam Polasa, Former Director, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Dr. Prabodh Halde, Convener, SEA Food Regulatory and Legal Committee and Dr.. B.V Mehta, Executive Director, The Solvent Extractor’s Association of India (SEA) were present to discuss the different aspects about edible oils comprising of its importance in diet, to selection of oils, the safety of refined oils and the logic of importing oils and its pricing.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. R.B.N. Prasad, Chairperson, Scientific Panel on Oils & Fats (FSSAI) said: “We are honored to share the knowledge about the Oils and its facts to the consumers through this forum. Cooking/Edible oils are very important for the maintenance of good health. These are energy-rich components in our daily food and provide about 9 kcals/g whereas carbohydrates and proteins provide only 4 kcal per gram. FSSAI has recognized several oils for cooking purpose and some of the most common cooking oils being consumed are as follows: Coconut oil, Cottonseed oil, Groundnut oil, Linseed/flaxseed oil, mustard oil, Rapeseed or mustard oil – low erucic acid, Olive oil, Palmolein, Palmsteain, Palm kernel oil, Rice bran oil, Safflower seed oil, Til Oil (Gingelly or sesame oil), Soybean oil, Maize (corn) oil, , Sunflower seed oil and High Oleic Sunflower seed oil. Majority of these oils require refining.”

He further added that “The oil obtained either from expellers or solvent extraction plant contains some impurities which adversely affect safety, flavor, odor, and appearance of oil and required to be removed for making them edible. After refining, oils will become more safe, palatable and stable against rancidity upon storage. Some of the oils like groundnut oil, sesame, coconut oil, mustard oil, safflower oil which are extracted using expelling technique can be consumed without refining However, in some cases, these seeds are also affected by aflatoxin during harvesting. It is advisable to refine these oils before consumption. Several oils like sunflower, palm soyabean, cottonseed, rice bran etc., are required to be sold only as refined oils as these oils are produced by solvent extraction process as they may contain solvent residues. FSSAI and other global agencies permit several processing aids for the refining of oils. Hence, refined oils are totally safe to use as cooking oil. Globally more than 85% of the oil consumed is refined oil. FSSAI has officially allowed the refining of vegetable oils using permitted food grade materials. Most of the nutritional components like tocopherols, tocotrienols, phytosterols, oryzanol lignans etc. are retained in reasonably higher quantities during refining. However, during the refining, some of the nutritional components like lecithin have to be removed (during the degumming step) as these components create some problems like foam during further refining steps or during cooking the foods.”

Dr Prabodh Halde , President AFST India said ,”Particularly refined oils are completely safe since the refining process is approved by government and also accepted in over 200 countries and being in practice from last 100 years Internationally codex and in India FSSAI has approved refining process and thus refining is completely safe process to produce safe oil. If refined oil is in consumed in moderate quantity and with regular exercise it is safe and healthy. Most of the Refined oil are fortified with vitamin A and D which is good for health. Refining technique is scientific process and that has made lots of healthy oil edible for human beings. Rice bran oil /Soy oil would not have been edible if refining process would not invented. We have to respect science and government so consume your edible oil as per your choice and be healthy and be safe”.

Adding to this Dr. Kalpagam Polasa, Former Director, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) added “Most of the global health organizations recommended intake for total dietary fat (visible + invisible) in adults ranges between 20-35% total Energy intake /day. In India, the recommended dietary guideline of ICMR (2010) for the total dietary fat intake is 30% total Energy intake /day. This means that 30% of the total daily energy intake should come from dietary sources of oils and fats. For example, if an individual consumes 2000 Kcal of energy/day, then 30% of 2000 KCal i.e. 600 Kcal (equivalent to 65 g) must come from the total fat (visible + invisible) intake. Hence, it is necessary to take about 30 g/day of visible oils. Each cooking oil has its own merits and demerits. We always refer consumers to buy packed edible oils as loose oils could be adulterated.”

Speaking further on this issue Dr. BV Mehta, Executive Director, The Solvent Extractor’s Association of India said, “Indian vegetable oil production is almost stagnant between 7.5 to 8.5 million tons per year for the last ten years. However, the demand for edible oils in India has shown a compounded growth of 4.5% over the last 10 years. Due to this reason, India’s import of vegetable oils is continuously growing and about 15.1 million tons of vegetable oils were imported during 2016-17. Despite this, the current levels of per capita consumption of edible oils in the country are about 15 to 16 kg, which is well below the world average of around 24 kg. The total consumption of edible oils in India stands at 22 million Tonnes with sunflower oil being 11.7% for the year 2017-18. 90% of the sunflower oil consumed in the country is imported from Ukraine and Russia. All imported edible oils are checked and verified for quality by Central Food Authorities, only then they are allowed for further processing. As discussed by other panelists, it is essential to refine the vegetable oils and India consumes almost 87% of refined oil in various forms, so all responsible manufacturers use the FSSAI approved process and agents for refining.”

He further added, “The pricing of edible oils is a dynamic factor dependent on the cost of oil, duty structure, and other operational costs. All standard brands in any category adhere to the guidelines by FSSAI and provide brands at competitive pricing derived from their efficiencies of manufacturing and distribution.”