Oils and Fats Update May 2023


Laurence Eyres FNZIFST


Food Fraud and Standard Specifications

For many people dealing in oils there is come confusion between enforceable legislation/compliance and standards for identity. This was recently illustrated at the World Conference on Avocado Oil where an afternoon session debated the whole issue of standards and adulteration. Professor Selina Wang a keynote speaker has published several articles showing that of 82% of avocado oil in the USA, eighty-two% is adulterated, hence why the bottles are so cheap and are threatening the existence of genuine Avocado oil from countries such as New Zealand.

See Inform Magazine, April 2023-picture attached.

When the situation was looked at a few years ago by this reviewer many samples were seen to be fraudulent and not disguised particularly well. So, everyone knows what is going on and what can be done about it?

In Australia, a new Australian standard for olive oil was created around a decade ago and fortunately the supermarkets welcomed it and insisted suppliers of Virgin oil met the standard. This resulted in a vast improvement of oils on the shelves-you need the active involvement of the retailers to make any progress. It appears that in the USA, price is the most important criteria, and they ignore fraud.

Codex, standards, and enforceable legislation. Codex standards and related texts are voluntary in nature. They need to be translated into national legislation or regulations to be enforceable

General Standards, Guidelines and Codes of Practice: These are the core Codex texts and apply to all products and product categories. These texts typically deal with hygienic practice, labelling, additives, inspection & certification, nutrition and residues of veterinary drugs and pesticides.

The Codex Alimentarius, or “Food Code” is a collection of standards, guidelines and codes of practice adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The Commission, also known as CAC, is the central part of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme and was established by FAO and WHO to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade. It held its first meeting in 1963.

The term “Codex Alimentarius” is Latin and means “food code.” Codex standards are international food texts, i.e., standards, codes of practice, codes of hygienic practice, guidelines, and other recommendations, established to protect the health of the consumers and to ensure fair practices in the food trade. The collection of food standards and related texts adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission is known as the Codex Alimentarius

There are three major areas of regulations concerning the global trading of oils and fats. Firstly, there is the international arena such as that of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Secondly, there are the standard international contracts for trade such as the FOSFA (Federation of Oils, Seeds, and Fats Associations) contracts and NIOP (National Institute of Oilseed Products) trading rules, as well as regional or national legislations such as those of the European Union (EU). Finally, there are some international codes of practice that are becoming increasingly important, for example, the use of the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) and the Codex Alimentarius Code of Practice for Oils and Fats.

Traders must understand all these laws and rules, and they should be completely familiar with their contracts. Also, recall that most of the time, we are dealing with the food industry and that the copious amounts of oils and fats produced in the world are for human consumption. Today, food production involves risk management, and this risk must be managed at all stages of the food chain, from farm to fork. One of the most critical areas of risk is the transport of bulk cargoes of oils and fats by sea, from the producing countries to the consuming countries. The main reason the risk is high is that oils in transit are not under the direct control of any of the trading parties. For the duration of the voyage, they are the responsibility of a third party, that is, the shipowner. During this link in the food chain, a vessel carrying edible oil must comply with the legislation developed by the IMO.

FOSFA Contracts

An estimated 85% of the current world trade in oils and fats uses FOSFA contracts, and it is interesting to consider the reasons for this. The main advantage is that the use of standard form contracts reduces the risk of trading parties misunderstanding the procedures they need to follow to enable the trade to go smoothly. The contracts also reduce the risk in trade as the clauses in the contracts are well known by all parties and reflect long-standing trade practices. This allows the parties to discuss and agree on the notable features such as quality, quantity, price, and shipment/delivery dates. Their confirmation letters include these details and usually a statement saying, “All other terms as per FOSFA 80″ (for crude palm oil, by way of an example). This means that they do not have to read all the other parties’ contracts, which would be necessary if standard contract forms were not available or used. All trading parties would like the contracts to be in their own language and refer to their own national legislation, but this is not practical. Thus, the trade agrees to use one common language and one authority, and, by virtue of history, these happen to be English and the rule of English law, as is common to all internationally traded commodities.

The contracts also reduce risk as they include rules for the hygienic carriage of oils and fats in bulk by sea. These rules are tried and evaluated and have been developed now over two decades and with much experience. For a FOSFA contract, these rules are contained in the publication referred to as “The Carriage of Oils and Fats.” Of particular importance in these rules are the two lists of banned previous cargoes and acceptable previous cargoes.

Certain regions such as the EU and the United States (via NIOP acting as the US trade body) have already made this choice for the trader by virtue of their wish to protect the health of the consumer. EU legislation requires that all food products be carried in dedicated transport. However, FOSFA approached the European Commission (EC) on behalf of its members and persuaded the EU that dedicated shipping, initiated in 1995, was not in the interests of any country. The distances are large, and the freight is expensive, so ships returning with empty tanks are not economic. More recently, this has been supported by the need to minimize the carbon footprint of the whole transport chain. Thus, the EU adopted a similar list to the FOSFA list of acceptable previous cargoes, but the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) did not agree with the inclusion of a few of the products on the list. They felt that data were insufficient to make a judgment and changed the FOSFA list slightly. But most of these cargoes are not carried in great volumes, and they could be removed from the FOSFA and NIOP Acceptable Lists without reducing the available ship space or the flexibility that charterers and owners seek. The recent decision by the EC to re-evaluate their acceptable list has meant that the decision to amend these trade lists has been postponed.

The CCFO is in the lengthy process of developing its acceptable list. It currently has a draft list at Step 7 and a smaller proposed draft list at Step 3. These steps relate to the progress of the standards as they move toward general acceptance, from Step 1 to Step 8. Thus, a major part of the acceptable list is in an agreed draft form. There have been no health issues with any of the substances in the draft list at Step 7, which is effectively equivalent to the FOSFA list as it was in 1996 when the EU adopted it. However, the proposed draft list at Step 3 is more contentious. CCFO has developed a set of draft criteria that it feels could be used to assess the suitability of a substance being regarded as an acceptable previous cargo.

Briefly, these criteria state that an oil is to be carried in appropriate systems with cleaning, inspection, and recording systems. The previous cargo must have a minimum Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 0.1 mg/kg of body weight/day, it must not contain a known food allergen that is not removed by further processing, and any known reaction products with oils must also comply with these criteria. However, these criteria are deemed extremely cautious. As representing the industry, FOSFA supports these criteria but feels that the further processing of the oils at their destination should be considered, thus allowing a lower ADI to be allowed in this case. There is also the problem of assessing materials that do not have an ADI value. Nevertheless, we believe that overall, the criteria have a 10× safety margin built into them, but they are the only set of criteria that have a defined level of toxicity for previous cargoes.

The criteria have been discussed by the EFSA, which concluded that they do not contradict the criteria used by the EU to consider previous cargoes. Thus, the hope is that these amended criteria will be agreed at the next meeting of the CCFO in February 2011 and allow the acceptable list to be adopted. There will be opposition to this adoption from the US delegation as they are against Codex having any lists, believing that the trade lists are adequate. However, this would leave the industry with at least three major lists of acceptable previous cargoes, namely, FOSFA, EU, and NIOP. Harmonization of the lists is a praiseworthy goal as this would prevent any potential of costly errors being made in the allocation of tank space. But this should not be pursued if it were to reduce the ship tank space available to the trade.

Nest step-implement the new standard for Codex using the analyses and specifications by Professors Wang and Wong (NZ)>. Then its up to the trade to lobby the retailers to ensure they get their suppliers to adhere to the Codex specification

Article from John Hancock who is the technical manager of FOSFA International, based in London. He has represented and promoted the interests of the oils and fats trade in many national, regional, and international technical arenas. This article is based on his presentation to the Oils & Fats International Congress held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in October 2010…


AOCS 5th Avocado Oil Expert Panel Meeting -Held at the AOCS conference in Denver 30.5.2023.


Chaired by: Selina Wang (scwang@ucdavis.edu) Purpose: To discuss areas of interest regarding Avocado oil.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) 45 th meeting was held November 21- December 13, 2022, during which the

draft revision to the Standard for Named Vegetable Oils (CXS 210-1999) for inclusion of Avocado Oil was adopted at Step 5, noting that there are pending.

technical comments that should be submitted at Step 6. The CAC committee endorsed the extension of the deadline for completion of the work to CCFO28.

(To be held in Q1 of 2024). Jill Moser to give update and provide a summary of the data that was collected. USP has submitted a standard and it was published by the FCC and was effective on June 1, 2022. Current published Monograph is for refined avocado oil. Monographs are updated in June and December each year. Requests for a monograph for virgin/extra virgin oil would require more data. USP has updated the format of the Avocado Oil standard by deleting some tests and replacing.

them with the relevant reference tests in FCC Appendix VII. But there is no content change to these tests.


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