Beware: We’ve No Cooking Oil Without High Trans Fat Content

Almost all popular Indian cooking oils have been found to contain trans-fat in tremendously high quantities after laboratory tests conducted by Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).Trans-fat is known to trigger heart attacks, causing thousands of premature deaths globally every year.

21 different brands of vegetable oil( sunflower, groundnut, mustard, coconut, olive, soybean, sesame and palm), seven Vanaspati brands, desi ghee and butter available in Indian markets etc all were tested with an alarming finding that trans-fat levels were 5 to 12 times higher than the world’s recommended standards in all Vanaspati brands. Tans-fat in oil should not exceed 2% of the total oil, according to the recommendations. However, while in some Vanaspati brand the percentage was as high as 23.7. Interestingly, the lowest trans-fat level was in desi ghee and in Amul butter- 5.3% and 3.73% respectively.

Trans-fat occurs when liquid oils solidify by partial hydrogenation, a process which stretches food shelf life and changes safe unsaturated fat into a killer. It increases bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin level and reduces good cholesterol, HDL. Trans-fats also cause cancer, diabetes, immune dysfunction, obesity and reproductive problems. In 2005, all restaurants in California went trans-fat free voluntarily. In 2008, the US government made it mandatory. Scientists say an increase of 5gm of trans-fat a day is equivalent to a 25% increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Shockingly, even while Indian food regulators have accepted trans-fat as a serious health concern, they are delaying setting the standard. As a result, India has no regulation to check the content of trans-fat in oil.

Sunita Narayan, CSE director, said, “ If you consider what the Union ministry of health has issued in the name of labeling nutrition facts, you will know how our food is at risk. It really allows companies to get away with anything-as long as it is on the label”.

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