Indians pride themselves on not wasting anything, especially food. Exactly how it should be. However, as the human race advances, cooking technology is understood better, and even changing significantly. A lot of our eating habits can lead to unforeseen complications, especially related to health. For instance, let’s look at reused cooking oil.
Traditionally in our households, as well as in large commercial kitchens, we make repeated use of edible oil for frying. While it might seem commercially viable, consider the fact that it creates significant health hazards.
- Repeated heating of edible oils leads to the formation of toxic compounds that leave them unfit for human consumption. Over a longer duration of consumption of such oil, liver function can be impaired. Fat accumulation and oxidative stress, in the liver, can cause its structure and function to be rendered useless.
- Excessive reheating of the oil can increase its toxic effects significantly and while uncertain, studies do indicate that prolonged consumption of such oil can lead to some forms of cancer as well.
- Similarly, reheating cooking oil multiple times can give rise to free radicals, as well as increase the trans-fat in the oil. It increases what we call the TPC or the Total Polar Compound. While there are government regulations to limit this percentage to not more than 25%. However, this is a lifestyle change that people alone can bring to their lives eventually.
So then, what’s the way out?
- One shouldn’t consume roadside fried foods as they keep reheating the same oil for maintaining the low product cost. There are always healthier options available. Like some experts say, if you think healthy eating is costly, try treatments later!
- Secondly, as long as oil is used only once, and heated for less than 10 minutes (typically how we use oil at home), it’s fine to use this oil for frying, or sautéing and be considered safe. However, establishments that use oil for commercial cooking, or large-scale cooking should take into account the government and scientific guidelines.
- It should be kept in mind that oil should not be heated at or above its smoke point to prevent the production of a high TPC percentage.
Discarding, and repurposing used cooking oil should be a priority. One of the reasons to keep using the oil is to prevent wastage. A very good way to do it is to develop a system of collecting, storing, and selling this used cooking oil for the production of bio-diesel. This allows for food products manufacturers, restaurants, etc. to ensure two things. The first is that they can use healthy oil for cooking. Second, is that they can discard it in an environment-friendly way.