A few days back – on 12th January 2019, I went to a very interesting event, named – “Gourmet Delights”. The event was organized by the ‘Malaysian Palm Oil Council’ and this is the first of its kind food event that I attended. It was a food hunt event, where all the bloggers were divided into small groups at the main venue, i.e. Ardor 2.1 and, later on, we all were given clue cards to find our next destination, where we had to perform different group activities. In all, we visited three different destinations apart from the main event destination and performed three different activities based on Palm Oil only. All the destinations were near to each other (within 1km.) and each destination is famous for its own specialty. The first destination that we visited was “Pandey’s Paan”. This is the World’s first tobacco-free Paan outlet in CP and uses Palm oil in its different preparations. The next stop was “My Bar Headquarters”, where we definitely were not offered drinks but we had to make a salad using ‘Palm Oil’ as its main ingredient. The main agenda of this food event was to talk and create awareness about the goodness of Palm oil. This food hunt event started after a brief presentation on Palm Oil by Ms. Bhavna Shah of MPOC, India. She enlightened us about the not-so-popular-and-controversial-palm-oil. Our last food hunt destination was “Punjabi By Nature”, wherein we were given a questionnaire to test our knowledge that we gathered during the insightful session by Ms. Bhavna Shah. And the whole activity concluded at the main venue where our last and the tastiest food tasting session happened. All in all, it was fun and the talk by MPOC India was quite insightful and eye-opening. 

Now moving to the main point of discussion 🡪 “Palm Oil”

Why is palm oil so bad for you?

What is wrong with palm oil?

Why is palm oil production a problem?

When I first typed “Palm Oil” in Google, the above three questions popped up in the Google search. Unfortunately, this oil is so controversial in the overall media that even, I thought of not attending the event, for the sole reason of not promoting the bad product to my readers. But then, I read more about it and thought of listening to the people behind this product. So, I went and thanked myself for making that decision and knowing the true story behind all the ‘Palm oil controversy’.

First, of oil, the fact that it feels the right product to me is that you will find this oil in all the daily consumer products that we use in your home- bakery products, chocolates, ice-creams, detergents, cosmetics, fuel and many more. Palm oil is everywhere. Then, what is this fuss all about this Palm oil?

The organizations/ groups/countries against Palm oil say that: 

Misinformation 1: Palm oil is not healthy for your heart and body.

Truth: Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the mesocarp (reddish pulp) of the fruit of the oil palms. Palm oil is recognized as wholesome and nutritious edible oil suitable for human consumption by CODEX Alimentarius. Palm oil has a balanced fatty acid composition, between its saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, and high content of vitamin E tocotrienols and tocopherols. Crude and red palm oil are also rich sources of provitamin A carotenoids. The main saturated fatty acid in palm oil is palmitic acid, which is the same form of saturated fatty acid that is most abundant in our body and in human breast milk. Palm oil is the most common cooking oil used throughout Asia and more than 300 scientific publications on palm oil in animals, cell cultures and human dietary intervention studies are available. In several human studies conducted by reputable research laboratories around the globe, scientists have found that palm oil consumption has a relatively neutral effect on blood cholesterol and shown to increase the `good” HDL-cholesterol. Palm olein, which is the liquid fraction of palm oil, also increases the “good” HDL-cholesterol. Palm olein, which is the liquid fraction of palm oil, is also equivalent to olive and canola oil for its effects on blood cholesterol. An Italian group of researchers led by Prof. Elena Fattore from Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in their publication in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) have documented all published palm oil human studies and concluded that the consumption of palm oil does not pose a threat as far as effects on blood lipids and coronary heart disease risk are concerned.

Misinformation 2: Palm Oil Drives Wildlife toward Extinction
Truth: The palm oil industry is continuously accused of driving wildlife species to the brink of extinction and the Orangutans have always been in the center of attention. 

I also received the same comment on my Instagram post.

The truth of the matter is as follows: 

  • Malaysia Is Green and Growing

Malaysia is a developing country that heavily relies on its natural resources for economic development and has honoured its pledge made at the Rio Earth Summit 1992 to uphold 50% of its land under forest cover. Recent Malaysian forest hectarage as published in the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2015 report (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation) reported that Malaysia currently maintains 22,195,100 ha or 67.6% of its total land area as forest. This is significantly higher than a country like Australia with only 16.2% of its landmass under forest. According to Vegan Australia (http://www.veganaustralia.org.au), 56% of the Australian continent, which accounts for 429 million hectare has been extensively modified for animal husbandry with livestock grazing (mainly for cattle, sheep, and dairy) on native or modified pastures while only 3.5 % (about 27 million hectares) of the land is used to grow food crops for humans. Malaysia (5.64 million hectares) and Indonesia (8.63 million hectares) collectively cultivate only 14.27 million hectares of oil palm which is a mere fraction in comparison to Australia’s exploitation of its landmass. This is an important fact that most Australian ecologists and consumers fail to acknowledge before pointing fingers at palm oil-producing nations. Vegan Australia also quoted that, land used for grazing often originated from forests or woodlands which were cleared or burnt to make it more suitable for cattle and sheep grazing.

  • Malaysia Has a Strong Policy Aimed at Protecting Its National Biodiversity

Malaysia is a country that gives high priority towards conservation of its mega-biodiversity and no single species is left behind. The launch of the revised National Policy on Biological Diversity emphasizes continued conservation by providing direction and framework in conserving the nation’s biodiversity in the face of increasing challenges. The policy strongly calls for active participation by all stakeholders which complements Malaysia’s obligation under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and aims to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

Misinformation 3: Food Manufacturers Like Palm Oil Because It’s Very, Very Cheap

Truth: We agree that palm oil trades much cheaper than the other competing seed oils. However, cheap does not equate to poor quality or nutritional value. Oil palm is the most productive oil-bearing crop and it yields 7 – 10 times more oil per hectare of land than all other oil-bearing crops. The oil palm yields up to 10 times more oil per hectare than soybean and 6 times more than rapeseed. The industry thus passes this price advantage to consumers, making palm oil the most affordable edible oil in the global market.

The above facts by the MPOC India, clearly state that the ‘Palm oil’ is completely ‘Safe’ to be used in our regular cooking, for its health benefits and the value it adds to the future of the world as a whole. What do you think?  Please share your views in the comments below.

Read more information on Palm oil here: http://www.mpoc.org.in/