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Used Cooking Oil and Indian’s Food Habits

Cooking and oil are considered a heavenly match in many kitchens as cooking oil is a vital part of our everyday cooking. Around the world, cooking oil is essential from sauteing veggies, shallow-frying and deep-frying delicacies to even adding it as a spread over rotis and parathas. Our days, lifestyle, and habits revolve around the heavy consumption of cooking oil.

And in India, many households take it a step ahead with a common practice of ‘saving’ the leftover cooking oil from earlier to reuse for later adding tadkas to dals and curries. In some homes, the oil is stored and reused many times over a long period of time… which may even extend by weeks and months. Such common practices of reheating cooking oil across homes change the chemical compound of the oil and eventually, open doors to harmful health ailments.

However, this trait is not limited to just households but extends to hotels and roadside eateries as well. One can easily witness fast food stalls constantly cooking and frying food in dark and murky oil that gives out a stale stench. This cooking oil has over a period of time turned rancid and also, toxic. As reheating oil releases free radicals and consumption of food cooked with such substance puts at risk the health of the customers in the long run.

Studies have linked re-using and reheating of cooking oil to an increase in bad cholesterol levels in the body, eventually blocking the arteries. While some other health hazards may include cancer, diabetes, acidity, and even heart disease.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) guidelines even say the re-heating of oil should be avoided and in case you have to reuse the cooking oil, a maximum of two times is permitted to avoid the formation of trans-fat. While doctors, health experts, and even, scientists have expressed grave concern over the damaging effects of overconsumption of such oil but the pattern is yet to break. Where does the issue lie? The lack of information and awareness with the public leads to mindless storage and consumption of used cooking oil. Government programs and initiatives like RUCO which highlight the adverse effects of rancid oil consumption, regulation of safe oil consumption, safe storage of leftover oil, and penetration to remote areas of the nation with awareness-driven campaigns can and will be the right steps towards raising awareness and action.

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