consumers beware!

When frying oil’s not well

Repeated heating of oil increases its viscosity, darkens its colour and also causes gum accumulation or tough foam at the top. This is in violation of regulations of the FSSAI

When frying oil’s not well

Repeated heating of oil increases its viscosity, darkens its colour and also causes gum accumulation or tough foam at the top. This is in violation of regulations of the FSSAI

Pushpa Girimaji

Recently when I bought piping-hot jalebis from a neighbourhood sweet shop, I found the oil in which they were being fried, sort of dark and foamy. On my enquiry, I was told that the dark colour was the reflection of the black frying pan in which these were being fried and that the oil was absolutely fresh and safe. Somehow, I was not very convinced. Are there any food safety regulations on this?

When you deep-fry food, the high temperature, oxygen in the air and moisture in the food, all cause certain complex changes in the composition of oil, releasing certain polar compounds or non-volatile decomposition products. Since these are known to cause a number of serious/ adverse health effects, the safety of used oil is measured in terms of its total polar compounds (TPC). The degree of deterioration of oil or the amount of TPC formed depends on the temperatures at which the oil is heated or frying takes place, the length of heating, the nature of oil and also the nature of food being deep-fried.

Keeping in mind the adverse health consequences of consuming food made with oil, whose quality and nutritional value have deteriorated from repeated heating or frying, the food safety regulator has specified certain parameters for their safe use and re-use. Thus, the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Third Amendment Regulations, 2020, mandate that “the TPC in unused or fresh vegetable oil or fat shall not be more than 15 per cent and used vegetable oil or fat having developed TPC more than 25 per cent shall not be used”.

In order to comply with the regulation, food business operators are expected to regularly check the oil used for frying for the TPC — they can do so with a simple, hand-held sensor that records the TPC. The oil is not to be used if its TPC is over 25 per cent. Or simply discard the oil after deep-frying once. Remember, several studies have shown how repeated consumption of food cooked in such oil can lead to cardio-vascular and neurodegenerative diseases, besides cancer.

Since discarding used oil into drains will clog the drainage system, the food safety regulator has devised a system of collection of used oil from large restaurants and hotels and their transportation to units that will ensure their re-use for the production of biodiesel. However, there is need to educate food business operators, particularly roadside vendors, on the importance of using safe oil and on the food safety regulation pertaining to it.

How does one know if the restaurant is using the same oil repeatedly for frying or whether the oil is safe? What can we, as consumers, do to ensure the safety of the oil used in restaurants and at home too?

Repeated heating of the oil increases its viscosity, darkens its colour and also causes gum accumulation or tough foam at the top. It is obvious that the eatery where you bought the jalebis was re-using highly degraded oil, in violation of regulations of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). So, whenever consumers come across such instances, they must immediately complain to the local food safety authority.

Of course, in most of the restaurants and eateries, we have no way of seeing the oil used for frying. So, in such cases, we can always make enquiries and ask the restaurant if they are checking the TPC of the oil and how they do it. This will put them on the alert. We must also make similar enquiries from online food delivery platforms and eateries. It is equally important to question the law-enforcement authorities on the implementation of the regulation. That will also force them to be more vigilant and ensure strict compliance with the regulation.

Lastly, when it comes to frying food at home, use minimal quantity of oil and do not allow the oil to smoke. Wipe away what little remains by using absorbent paper and discard the paper with your trash. If you are reluctant to throw the oil, FSSAI says that you can filter it and use it in curries or for sautéing, but should use it within a day or two as its rate of decomposition is very fast.

Tribune Shorts


Top Stories

Supreme Court slams Delhi govt over ‘Red Light On, Gaadi Off’ campaign

Supreme Court sets 24-hour deadline for govt to come up with concrete measures on air pollution

Bench hints at setting up task force; pulls up Delhi govt fo...

Delhi schools to be closed from Friday till further orders due to pollution

Delhi schools to be closed till further orders due to pollution

The decision comes after the Supreme Court on Thursday pulls...

India hits out at UN human rights body for comments on J-K

India hits out at UN human rights body for comments on Jammu and Kashmir

Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson in the Ministry of External...

Cities

View All