The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a warning that palm oil can cause cancer due to contaminates introduced during the high temperatures used in manufacturing. The contaminates, glycidyl fatty acid esters (GE), 3-monochloropropanediol (3-MCPD), and 2-monochloropropanediol (2-MCPD) are found in the highest concentration in palm oils but they can be found in other industrial seed oils as well. At this point they know of no safe level of glycidol and believe consumption of palm oil raises a “potential health concern”. News outlets are posting sensationalist stories entitled “Nutella causes cancer” because Nutella’s main ingredient is palm oil. Nutella states that it only uses palm oil that is made at lower temperatures so it doesn’t have the contaminates. As far as I know there is no way to manufacture industrial seed oils without using heat. Also, as far as manufactures have been concerned, as long as oil is food grade it’s been fine to use. It is unlikely that a company that needs large quantities of palm oil has been monitoring if the oil was manufactured at low temperatures. The company may make some changes in future due to the recent report but unless there is considerable pressure from customers I doubt it. Even as the news talks about cancer and palm oil all of the American news outlets conclude that because there has been no ban on use, that palm oil is safe for consumption.
I can’t eat palm oil, it makes me sick. When I read about the refining process I found that it is made on the same equipment as other oil products such as rape seed, cotton seed, and shea nut oils. (Read about the manufacturing process here ) This may be why I get sick or it could be that because of the way the oil is made I have a problem with it. So even if you don’t have an oil sensitivity palm oil is an industrial product and has now been shown to have links with cancer and dementia.
As if the health reasons weren’t enough of a reason to avoid palm oil I read today “Oil palm production is responsible for massive deforestation, land use disputes with indigenous populations, and complete destruction of tropical ecosystems. It is the principle reason for the endangerment of animals such as the pygmy elephant — the smallest elephant on Earth — the clouded leopard, and the long-nosed tapir. Oil palm production is also responsible for the disappearance of about half of the world’s population of wild orangutans.”
I’m always interested to hear about any news articles related to industrial seed oils and possible health concerns. If you find any, please send me a link.