Malaysian palm oil is pure, wholesome and, contrary to what you may read on the internet, does not cause cancer. In fact, the palm oil industry may be ahead of all other edible oils when it comes to reducing process contaminants. In an article in the Star Online, Dr. Kalyana Sundram, CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) stressed that the local palm oil industry takes this issue seriously. Even though no actual risk to human health has been identified, measures to reduce or eliminate process contaminants are already in place. In addition, significant funds have been allocated to investigate this issue.
A European Food Safety Authority report claimed that palm oil contains higher content of 3-monochloropropanediol (3-MCPD) and glycidyl fatty acid esters (GE) than other edible oils and was therefore more carcinogenic.
“It occurs in olive, soya, rapeseed, corn, sunflower and in palm oils as well,” said Sundram. “This knowledge triggered a lengthy period of evaluation not only in Europe but also at our own Malaysian Palm Oil Board laboratories.”
Sundram explained that 3-MCPD and GE are not found in raw palm oil, but may occur when the oil is heated above 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit), a process that may happen during food production. “(However) in the near future, palm oil produced in Malaysia will be free of these contaminants.” This comment was in response to a media report claiming a connection between Nutella, which contains Malaysian sustainable palm oil, and cancer. This report has been called irresponsible.
MPOC has been studying this issue and has published reports in scientific journals. They work with plantations owners, millers, refiners and end-users to help them adopt production and processing technologies that reduce or eliminate contaminants.
In addition, the Malaysian Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry (MPIC) has allocated RM50 million (more than 11 million USD) toward reducing process contaminants. “The fund will be used for mechanizing research activities in both local and overseas research organizations, acquisition of mechanization technologies, hosting competitions and modification of equipment,” said MPIC Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.