How Cancer causing substances crept into food products containing palm oil?

The rise in 3-MCPD in Malaysian palm oil is attributed to adulteration of production oil with hazardous waste constituents due to changes in extraction process at palm oil mills over the years by ways of:

  • Recycling steriliser condensate into the production oil process to recover its constituent residual oil.
  • Recycling empty fruit bunch pressed liquor into the production oil process to recover its constituent residual oil.
3-MCPD levels found in refined palm oil and palm fats are the highest in crude palm oil sourced from Malaysia. While it is known that several other refined food oils contain traces of the contaminant, Malaysian palm oil contains 3 to 14 mg/kg, which is up to 14 times higher than the maximum save level set by the European Food Safety Authority.

Interestingly, it was recently (May 2017) reported that “As Malaysia steps into the second century of commercial oil palm planting, … the challenges facing the industry will only continue to intensify.” Industry captains were quoted as saying that “In order to face the increasing demands on the industry, Malaysia needs to work towards creating a distinguished Malaysian brand for palm oil, which will be accepted as the preferred choice by global customers.”

The above statements come in the face of the industry grappling with allegations of cancer health concerns due to the use of palm oil in food products, for example, Nutella. The allegation was related to the occurrence of 3-monochloropropanediol (3-MCPD) and Glycidyl fatty acid esters (GE) in palm oil. Should we be worried? Continue reading “How Cancer causing substances crept into food products containing palm oil?”

Palm Oil Sustainability: An Inconvenient Truth

Of late there has been much reporting in the media questioning the sustainability of Malaysian palm oil production turning it into the whipping boy of Europe and the US. This article analyses the chronological events leading up to this state of affairs to examine if the backlash is indeed unfair and if there is a way forward to get past this impasse.

Granted, we have much to thank the palm oil industry. It has contributed greatly to the nation’s GDP and reduced the poverty rate in Malaysia.

However, we often read that the success of the industry did not come without a price:

Today, we are so successful but we went through so many challenges. “Because of the success of our palm oil, countries that produce other vegetable oils attacked us …
“Because we are so competitive, that’s why they are always targeting palm oil …

Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, Minister, Plantation Industries and Commodities, Malaysia

As may be expected, the palm oil industry’s potential adverse impact on environment and climate change will strike anyone knowledgeable out there who is concerned about the fact that as palm oil production was being scaled up, simultaneously, rainforests were being displaced on a massive magnitude. Further, there are growing concerns about food safety among European and American households who as consumers have a heightened awareness about such issues.

When did the attacks start and why are they continuing?

Continue reading “Palm Oil Sustainability: An Inconvenient Truth”