Oils and Fats News May 2011

AGM 2011

This year’s AGM and dinner will be on June 7th at the Northern Club. The cost is $45.00 for a two course dinner with wine, and coffee. For attendance email

Dietary and nutrition mis-reporting

Over two-thirds of the dietary information printed in national UK newspapers does not have sound scientific backing, according to a new study that raises concerns that misinformation is leading to public misconceptions about food.

Daily newspapers are an important source of information about nutrition and health for the general public, and their coverage may have a big part to play in the food choices and health beliefs of their readers. However the new study, conducted by researchers from Kings College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggests that accuracy and a solid scientific background are being sacrificed for the entertainment element, and a desire for shock or titillating headlines.

The question is particularly pertinent at present, given the upheaval for the healthy foods industry in the wake of the new European health claims regulation. For food firms whose claims have been rejected, media coverage of what data they do have has been suggested as one way to expose consumers to purported benefits of certain foods.

We wish the NZ Herald would take note of this report.

Proposal to label Palm Oil

Malaysian officials have formally registered opposition to a proposal in the Australian parliament calling for new labels on food products containing palm oil to identify the ingredient and carry a certification attesting to environmentally sustainable practices followed in the production of the agricultural commodity.


(Photo: REUTERS)

At a Senate public meeting on the policy proposal, Dr Yusof Basiron, chief executive officer of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, said the bill singles out palm oil, currently Malaysia’s top agricultural export.

Palm oil is the only product to be subjected to mandatory labels in Australia for reasons other than health or nutrition, said Dr Yusof.

The bill takes into account concerns from environmentalists about the impact of the production of palm oil, on wildlife, specifically on alleged deforestation that has affected orang-utan and elephant populations.

Read more:

Omega-3 approved as a drug in USA

Amarin’s (AMRN) medicinal-grade fish oil drug AMR101 significantly lowered triglyceride levels without raising “bad” LDL cholesterol, according to results of a late-stage study reported last month.

High strength supplements on the retail market are generally purified ethyl esters.
AMR101 is an ultra-purified form of the omega-3 fatty acid known as Ethyl EPA.

Prices of oils and fats reach popular press

At a time when consumers are focused on food costs that are within about 3 percent of a record, stockpiles of edible oils needed to make everything from spreads to fast foods are dropping to a three-decade low. This is resulting in major price rises for all oils.

The combined stocks of nine oils will plunge 25 percent to 9.39 million metric tons this year.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates this to be only 23 days of demand, the fewest since 1974.  Palm oil prices will climb as much as 23 percent to $1,324USD a ton by Dec. 31, based on the median in a Bloomberg survey of 11 analysts and traders.

As the global population expanded 85 percent in the past four decades, demand for edible oils raised almost nine fold.

Rainfall and cold weather has delayed planting of grains and oilseeds, sunflower and rapeseed in CanadaRussia, Ukraine and the U.S.A., threatening already-low global inventories, Oil World said in a report today.

In the U.S.A., the world’s biggest exporter of corn, soybeans and wheat, heavy rains through Midwest and Plains states have made fields too wet for planting.

Meanwhile a great number of people are endeavouring to take palm oil out of all food products; this approach will be seen as being not particularly practical with fats and oils prices already going through the roof and the continuing worldwide recession.

Olive oil’s purity again questioned in new study

A recent report in the Los Angeles Times (April 13, 2011) by the UC Davis Olive Centre and the Australian Oils Research Laboratory (see Inform), is a follow-up to a similar study the two research centres conducted last summer. That earlier report said that two-thirds of common brands of extra-virgin olive oil found in California grocery stores aren’t what they claim to be. Many of those problematic oils, erroneously labelled “extra-virgin,” were imports that commanded premium prices. We believe the situation is exactly the same in Australasia. The Australian Olive Oil Council is working on a new standard for extra-virgin olive oil but this is being fiercely resisted here in New Zealand by importers and retailers of the refined oils.  The topic will be covered in the new series of “What’s really in your food”, which starts on TV3 on Tuesday 17 May.

New Antioxidants

Deep frying takes place at high temperatures which can chemically alter the characteristics of the frying oil. Synthetic antioxidants are commonly used to reduce associated oxidative rancidity, which can alter the stability, texture and nutritional quality of fried foods. However, natural alternatives to prevent such changes are also in demand, as consumers continue to seek out foods that are free from artificial additives.

Kemin Food Technologies has developed a natural green-tea based stabilizer for frying oils that can be used instead of synthetic tocopherols and antioxidants to slow oil deterioration. The product GT-FORT is a water soluble liquid ingredient that is also oil dispersible. The company said that it is produced by a multi-stage green tea extraction process that maximizes the tea’s polyphenols  (naturally occurring antioxidant components in green tea). Its use during frying slows the oxidation process and thereby delays oil quality deterioration. This in turn prevents quality problems in finished fried foods.

Kemin’s Food Technologies division stated that “Our research demonstrates that GT-FORT performs as well as the synthetic ingredients commonly used to stabilize frying oils. When tested in palm oil used to create instant noodles and French fries, GT-FORT worked as effectively as synthetics to delay the deterioration of oil, without changing the flavour profile.”

FSANZ Survey of chemical migration from packaging materials

Food packaging is vital for ensuring foods are not contaminated, providing physical protection and extending the shelf life of foods.

FSANZ is aware of a number of reports about chemicals in food contact packaging that might migrate into the food or liquid inside a package. To assess whether the levels of packaging chemicals in Australian foods and beverages present any health and safety risks, FSANZ undertook a survey of a range of chemicals associated with packaging materials.

A total of 65 foods and beverages packaged in glass, paper, plastic or cans were analysed for chemicals in the survey.

The survey looked at concentrations of a range of chemicals that might migrate from packaging into food including phthalates, perfluorinated compounds, and epoxidised soybean oil (ESBO), semicarbazide, acrylonitrile and vinyl chloride.

What did the survey find?

The survey results were very reassuring with no detections of phthalates, perfluorinated compounds, semicarbazide, acrylonitrile or vinyl chloride in food samples.

ESBO, which is produced from soybean oil and is used in a range of plastics, was detected at very low levels in a small proportion of samples analysed. These levels were well below international migration limits set by the European Union and don’t pose a risk to human health and safety.

FSANZ will continue to monitor levels of BPA and other chemicals used in food packaging which may migrate into foods and beverages as part of the 24th Australian Total Diet Study.

Epoxidised soybean oil is the plasticizer formed by the reaction of soybean oil with hydrogen peroxide or ethylene oxide under acid conditions.
Laurence Eyres, FNZIFST

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