The Palm Oil Gourmet Delights Event – Myths busted about palm Oil

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Recently I was invited to attend ‘ The Palm Oil Gourmet Delights ‘ event organized by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (#MPOC ) to educate about the diverse uses of palm oil and to bust some myths about #PalmOil consumption.

The event was insightful as well as it was fun filled with some interesting activities lined up that revolved around palm oil. We had a deep and impactful session from Dr. Bhavna Shah (Country Representative of #MPOC for India and Sri Lanka) which cleared many doubts in my mind.
During the course of the event we hopped from The Ardor 2.1 restaurant to Pandey’s Paan that have been the official Paan supplier to the President House. We had a Paan eating contest at Pandey’s Paan and one of the ingredient used was cashews which was fried in Palm Oil.
Some Fun filled moments at the event

 The next stop over was My Bar Headquarters, the famous pocket friendly pub which is a hit with young crowds. Here we had a Salad Making contest using Palm oil for dressing. After completing the contest, we shuttled to Punjabi by Nature restaurant for a Quiz contest on palm oil and then we made it back to Ardor 2.1 where we had an exciting blind food tasting event that had dishes cooked in palm oil.I felt that the use of palm oil added a richer and nuttier taste to the dish .

Salad making contest using Palm oil as ingredient 
The event concluded with lunch and prize distribution.

My Take away from ‘ The Palm Oil Gourmet Delights ‘event

Palm Oil is, unknown to many of us;an integral part of our day to day life .It is widely used in products ranging from soap, lipsticks, and conditioners to bio-fuel. I still remember that in the pre-globalization area, palm oil was supplied as “Palmolein”’ in the government ration shops but after the markets opened up and the consumers were able to exercise more choices we saw it disappearing from the food markets though it is continuously and widely being used indirectly in about 50% of food products in the supermarket like biscuits, cakes, chocolates etc. .

Indonesia, Malaysia, Columbia, Thailand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Ecuador are some of the largest producers of palm oil.

Palm Oil has been garnering negative publicity for two most commonly perpetrated myths.

1. It is unhealthy for the heart as it is high in saturated fats

Palm oil is fractionated into palm olein which is the liquid fraction, high in monounsaturated oleic acid. This is the primary cooking oil used in tropical and sub-temperate regions of the world. Palm oil has a balanced fatty acid composition, between its saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, and high content of vitamin E like Tocotrienols and Tocopherols. Crude and red palm oil are also rich sources of pro-vitamin A Carotenoids. And in fact this cheap Vitamin rich oil is frequently used as Vitamin supplement in African countries. 

Palm Oil is used to fight malnutrition (Pic – )

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 the incidence of coronary heart disease.

In fact, evidence is coming forth and increasingly mounting that the risk associated with consumption of saturated fats is less pronounced and shifting more towards total calorie intake especially those empty calories from refined sugar and carbohydrates.

2. Palm Oil is the villain behind Wild life extinction 
Oil palm cultivation has been an important generator of economic growth in Indonesia and Malaysia  in recent years, contributing to a reduction of poverty. However, the industry has also been associated with a number of adverse social and environmental impacts.


                                                                        Palm plantation ,source –
It is a fact that a lot of rain forests had been cleared to make way for Oil palm plantation but I learnt that revised Malaysian National Policy on Biological Diversity emphasizes continued forest 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 compliments Malaysia’s obligation under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and aims to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.
Malaysian Oil palm industry is regulated by about 15 laws and regulations pertaining to including the Land Acquisition, Environmental Quality, Pesticides Usage, Occupational Safety and Health Act (1977), and Protection of Wildlife Act 1972. 
Malaysia has pledged to At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to maintain at least 50 per cent of perpetual forest and tree cover, and this commitment was reiterated at the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Copenhagen in 2009. Malaysia has also made a pledge to voluntarily reduce carbon intensity by 40 per cent by the year 2020 compared to 2005 levels (NRE, 2011).
Some of the efforts by the Oil Palm lobby and Malaysian people has helped  and 14th June 2018, the ban on palm oil bio-fuels proposed by the European Parliament to be effected by 2021,has been removed for the time being as it was considered discriminatory against palm oil producers and in favor of other seed oil producers.

Palm oil is non-GMO (genetically Modified Organism ) product

An oil palm plantation with its perennial green cover and closed canopy displays the main features of a tropical rain forest. It is also a more efficient carbon sink than a tropical rain-forest and helps absorb greenhouse gases. Palm oil also needs much less land and water to produce compared to other seed oils.

In Conclusion 
Let us face it- Palm Oil is unavoidable so it does not make economic sense to just shift to more expensive oils and neither can all countries afford it. The solution does not lie in boycotting /banning Palm tree oil or products.
So the key lies in making it more sustainable, making it more friendly to the 3Ps- People ,Plants and Profit ensuring Social development of the Malaysian people, Conservation and management of the environment and  progress of the nation as a whole via economic development.
Sustainability is the key(Image source

It is time to call for a fair and balanced view on issues related to sustainability of palm oil and ensuring that Malaysia and its Palm Oil Industry is encouraged to adhere to the measures    pledged.Developing countries with their burgeoning population and economies cannot only be held responsible and liable for the damage that developed countries have already inflicted on the planet.

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