Cancer-causing Chemicals in Fats and Oils: Aflatoxins & Benzo(a)pyrene

June 2, 2016

This is a summary of the Food Safety Focus (112th Issue, November 2015) in Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety.

 

Aflatoxins and Benzo(a)pyrene are the two major carcinogenic chemicals particularly presented in fats and oils. 

Aflatoxins

  • Group of highly toxic mycotoxins produced by fungi (4 main kinds: B1, B2, G1, G2)

  • Carcinogenic (Group I in WHO - IARC*) - Liver as primary target

  • Pressing of contaminated oil-bearing crops e.g. corn, peanuts, other oilseeds result in their presence in oil

  • Nearly completely removed by the process of oil refinement BUT proper storage and handling is still important to minimise the risk
    e.g. low moisture levels to prevent growth of related fungi and aflatoxins production

 

Enjoi's comments:
Proper storage is extremely crucial to the health of oil. Don't risk your life in unreliable oil suppliers. Enjoi promotes better traceability of oil and provides education amongst supermarket buyers and hotel & restaurant chefs. Enjoi's Australian Premium oil Canola, High Oleic Sunflower, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil are produced with strict standards therefore are healthy choices.

 

Learn more:
1. How to Choose an Oil Supplier?
2. How Supermarket Practice Affects the Food You Eat?
3. Consider Traceability When Choosing Your Oil

 

Benzo(a)pyrene, B[a]P

  • Kind of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

  • Carcinogenic (Group I in WHO - IARC*)

  • Ubiquitous in environment BUT formed via certain processing/cooking method
    e.g. barbecuing, smoking, drying, roasting, frying or grilling

  • Occurrence in oils is mostly related to the drying processes of the oilseeds where combustion gases may come into contact with them

  • Local & overseas surveillance have shown that certain types of oils may contain higher levels of B[a]P
    i.e. Peanut oil, Corn oil, Grapeseed oil, Sunflower oil, Olive pomace oil

  • Use of active carbon during refining of the oil is a way to reduce PAHs after direct drying.

  • Levels in oils can be much reduced after oil refining processes BUT ultimate level would depend on the conditions under which refining take place and quality control

 

Enjoi's comments:

Aside from choosing types of oils with lower risk, level of B[a]P ultimately depends on the refining process and quality control, so again how good the oil production company is doing should be your major concern. Choose your oil supplier wisely!
Healthy oils - Healthy life

 

*WHO - IARC
= World Health Organization - International Agency for Research on Cancer
 

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