On January 8, 2019, there was a news report on refined cooking oils in India. The ‘Scientific Panel on Oils and Fats’ at Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had said that refined oils were totally safe to use as cooking oil (source).
The report quoted parts of some of the speeches at a seminar, “Edible Oils – Myths & Facts.” Some of the quotes were:
“…Because the oil obtained either from expellers or solvent extraction plant would contain some impurities which adversely affect the safety, flavor, odor, and appearance of oil, they are required to be removed for making the oil edible and for ensuring long shelf life…The refining process was done as per the guidelines issued by FSSAI and most of the nutritional components were retained during refining…”
What Is Refined Cooking Oil
While researching this topic, I saw a few articles on how refined cooking oil is manufactured. It was an eye-opener. This is the process:
- After oilseeds are crushed and oil is extracted from them, some oil remains trapped in the crushed seeds. That remaining oil is extracted via a process called “solvent extraction.”
- The solvent (hexane is commonly used) dissolves the oil in the seeds. Much of the solvent in this dissolved mix is distilled out. But there is still some solvent left in the mix, which is then skimmed by boiling the oil.
- The solvent-extracted oil needs to be refined to get rid of smell, color, and bitterness. During this refining process, oil is repeatedly heated to very high temperatures, and a variety of chemicals are added and later washed away to remove bitterness, foul odor, and color. Finally, this “refined oil” is packed into cute bottles for us to buy.
That sounds like a scary process for food that is certified as “safe” for human consumption. Does the cooking oil obtained at the end of the refining process seem “natural” to you? Or do we really need solvent extraction?
Why I Prefer Cold Pressed Oil
My primary reason: I don’t want to eat solvent-extracted oil even though it is “certified safe.”
Cold Pressed Oil Is Better
Cold-pressed oil does not go through any solvent extraction and is not intentionally heated. Instead, it is obtained just by crushing and pressing oil seeds. The resulting oil is filtered to remove visible solids and then packed for sale. Cold-pressed oil is also better for health as it contains natural vitamins and a healthy mix of natural monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Please read more about cold-pressed oil here.
Happy cooking & stay safe.