Warning issued after 9 restaurants found selling used cooking oil

Warning issued after 9 restaurants found selling used cooking oil

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 14/04/2024
Photo source : Consumer Council of Fiji

Food establishments are reminded to immediately halt the selling of used cooking oil after the Consumer Council of Fiji, in a recent snap survey of 43 restaurants in Suva City, discovered that 9 restaurants were selling used cooking oil while another one was giving it away for free.

The Council says given the serious health risks this poses to consumers, most restaurants provide used cooking oil to their staff for free.

They say such practices are a blatant disregard for consumer safety and are simply outrageous.

Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Seema Shandil says this is a direct attack on the health of Fijians.

She says with Fiji already grappling with a high number of non-communicable diseases like heart disease and cancer, these restaurants are playing a dangerous game by peddling used oil, which is loaded with harmful trans-fatty acids when reheated.

Shandil says scientific evidence supports their stance against the reuse of cooking oil.

She adds a study published in the National Library of Medicine, titled “Influence of Heating during Cooking on Trans Fatty Acid Content of Edible Oils: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” reinforces the dangers of reusing cooking oil and the research confirms that “prolonged and/or repeated use of cooking oils” should be avoided to minimize the formation of harmful TFAs.

The CEO says there is no way of determining what other cross-contaminants it may contain, posing potential health hazards to consumers.

She says without proper labelling or information, consumers may unknowingly consume allergens present in the used oil, leading to adverse allergic reactions.

Beyond the sale of used cooking oil, the Council is also calling on food establishments to implement safe cooking practices by avoiding reusing cooking oil – given that evidence clearly indicates that each time oil is reused, it poses an exponentially increased risk to consumers' health.

Shandil is urging consumers not to purchase used cooking oil and to also use safe cooking practices at home by properly discarding used oil and not reusing it – which some are practising to save a dollar or two.

She says consumers must note that the real cost of reusing oil, in terms of their health and well-being will be far more than the price of a few bottles of oil.

The Council is also calling for immediate action, and they will be working with the Ministry of Health to ensure decisive steps are taken to address this dangerous practice in the marketplace.

She adds stringent regulations and enforcement measures are essential to protect Fijian consumers.

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