A decision taken thousands of miles from Malaysia – in the offices of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) – could have profound consequences for the future of the palm oil sector.
The FDA has decided to effectively ban partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, due to their worrying levels of trans fat content. Trans fats have been widely regarded by scientists as a major negative factor for health and wellbeing.
Palm oil is a natural and healthy replacement for trans fats – because the beneficial and adaptable composition of palm oil means that it can serve the same purpose in food, but without the major health negatives.
Palm oil does not contain trans fats – its composition means that it does not require partial hydrogenation (unlike liquid oils, such as rapeseed). This opportunity for the palm oil industry may be expanded, too, as European authorities consider whether or not to introduce their own restrictions on trans fats, following the USA.
Scandalous and frivolous allegations against palm oil abound, still, in both the USA and Europe: but perhaps this new high-profile decision, to ban trans fats, is the opportunity palm oil needs to improve image, and perhaps with it, market share. It will surely take pressure to convince Europeans to take this necessary step, too.
The Malaysian palm oil community has always been a byword for high-quality, responsibly-produced palm oil. In addition to that accolade, we now have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to consumer health in markets across the world by highlighting palm oil’s benefits as a replacement for trans fats.
This can help to protect the health of people around the world. The FDA has shown the way, and now others should follow.
(The Oil Palm)