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31 July 2015

Palm oil has become public enemy number one for consumers

New food labelling has revealed the omnipresence of this vegetable fat, increasing doubts, suspicions and fears. But is there is a real danger?

Since December 2014, producers have been required to label all the ingredients in a food product. While this has increased awareness about what goes into our food, it has also sparked fears and fuelled suspicions about those very ingredients. Palm oil has become a prime suspect, Found in many products, from cakes, baked products and even fresh pasta, palm oil has been branded as a danger to our health and a definite food no-no.

You can find palm oil in virtually every slice of bread, spread and biscuit. For food manufacturers, it has always been a key ingredient since it is a low cost vegetable fat that can significantly slow down oxidation, the process which makes food go bad. However, palm oil has been a borderline unhealthy ingredient.

What has driven doubts and concerns about palm oil is the fact that consumers have not previously been told about its presence in virtually all processed foods. It is true that palm oil loses its natural qualities when it is refined to make processed foods. It also increases the total amount of saturated fat, making it harmful to the pancreas. Excessive use of palm oil can, therefore, be one of the factors causing diabetes. The Belgian Board of Health has stressed the need to monitor and reduce the presence of palm oil, because it can damage the arteries.

Given these effects, then, Italian consumers have demanded that food manufacturers find alternatives to palm oil, replacing it with olive oil and sunflower oil instead. In Italy, some companies are already responding to the call and implementing major changes to guarantee the health of the consumer.


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