NINA KILDIJ, Head Testing Department, TEST Center of Expertise: Ban on palm oil and common sense

The Draft Law #3871 which relates to the prohibition of use of palm oil in dairy products, is being actively discussed in the media. The information on this issue is presented to consumers in such a way that it may have them misled.

Yes, the bill introduces amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Milk and Dairy Products”. But actually it does not change anything. By this Law it had already been prohibited to use fats of non-dairy origin in traditional dairy products. The initiators of the current changes insist on introducing the statement on the prohibition as follows: “the use of fats of non-dairy origin, including palm oil”. But palm oil is the fat of non-dairy origin! By the Law “On Milk and Dairy Products” in Ukraine it is forbidden to falsify milk, kefir, ryazhanka, yoghurts, sour cream, butter and cheeses with substitutes for milk fat. Now we can see the attempt to prohibit falsification with using just palm oil. But then, why margarine is not awarded a special mentioning?

Another reason why this amendment is not significant is the fact that none of the producers who produce counterfeit do not use the palm oil, they use mixtures of palm and coconut oil with margarines and cooking fats. To withstand falsification, it is necessary to increase control over quality of food products, not make amendments that do not change anything.

It is a pity that in media discussion almost no attention is given to another amendments proposed by the Draft Law #3871, namely, total ban on the use of palm oil in all foodstuffs. These amendments are aimed at introducing to the Law of Ukraine “On Safety and Quality of Food Products”. This ban will primarily affect products in which the use of palm oil was allowed earlier and producers clearly marked this on product labels.

In general, it is important to know exact terms and definitions! Fom the standpoint of an average consumer, palm oil is made from palm fruit. But there are different palm trees. The most used and cheap oil is the one got from the so-called “oil palm” (Elaeis guineensis). In DSTU 4306: 2204 this oil is called palm oil.

The largest consumer of palm oil is confectionery industry, because cookies, candy, cakes and waffles contain a lot of the fat. For a long time, nobody have not been adding butter to these products due to its high price. Ordinary margarine is about three times cheaper than butter. To keep the cost of production at a reasonable level not to lose consumers at all, confectionery producers use palm oil or margarine (these two categories of fats are direct competitors). They cannot switch to use of butter because of the impoverishment of the population, which is not buying so much sweets as before. At the same time, the population of Western Europe which is far from impoverishment, does not have objections against the use of palm oil in some products.

There is a lot of criticism about palm oil, but it is not forbidden throughout the world, and its unequivocal undeniable damage is also not a recognized fact. Even the WHO does not call the whole world to urgently prohibit the use of palm oil. At the same time, the world recognizes the harm of trans fats for the organism, a large number of which is contained in margarines and cooking fats.

The adoption of the bill in the context of a total ban on use of palm oil may lead to an even greater increase in the amount of transfats in sweets, given their full reorientation to margarine, that is, these products will be definitely dangerous.

Trans fats primarily affect cardiovascular system and liver. It is known that the main consumers of sweets are children. May be it is worth to choose from the two misfortunes the one that seems smaller instead of jeopardizing health of younger generation? It is necessary to introduce certain rules on trans fats in confectionery products and to strengthen control over observance of these norms, along with the strengthening of control over margarines.

That is, again we can see how the problem of the inadequate control and punishment which should be provided by the state is being replaced by introduction of amendments to the Law which will stay only on paper. And everything is done even without consulting with knowledgeable specialists.

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