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Palm Oil Drama Fallout Lingers

The use of palm oil in the commercial food industry is widespread because it is cheap.The use of palm oil in the commercial food industry is widespread because it is cheap.

Out of 1.4 million tons of vegetable oils imported to Iran annually, close to 760,000 tons are palm oil, according to a member of the Majlis Agriculture Commission, Abbas Papeyzadeh.

Palm oil is one of the highly saturated vegetable fats difficult to digest and causing toxicity. Its use in the commercial food industry is widespread because it is cheap.

“After the national debate on the negative effects of palm oil on health back in 2014, dairy producers were strictly warned not to use it in milk and yogurt. While only 2% of the dairy industry had used palm oil in their products at the time, the amount of its use was highly exaggerated and as a result per capita dairy consumption in Iran decreased from 110 kilograms to only 60 kilograms per year,” he was quoted as saying by the Persian daily Shahrvand.

He believes that the few factories guilty of using palm oil should have been introduced to the public back then, but unfortunately the improper handling of the issue took a toll on the entire dairy industry.

“Consequently, 30% of Iranian livestock farms went bankrupt and there was a manifold increase in dairy prices,” says Papeyzadeh.

Hassan Chamani with Iran Dairy Industries Association said the import of palm oil is permitted by the Health Ministry.

“If palm oil is so detrimental for human health, why doesn’t the ministry prohibit its imports altogether?” he asked.

Back in June, Rasoul Dinarvand, the head of the Food and Drug Administration of Iran, announced that the import of palm oil decreased by 300,000 tons a year over the past two years due to new health safety regulations and standards set by the administration.

“Since we increased the tax on palm oil imports and considerably lowered the limit of trans fats permissible in edible oils, standards for edible oil have improved,” he told IRNA.

Noting that palm oil consumption should not exceed 30%, he said the consumption rate was 50% earlier, as it was cheap. In the current Iranian year that started in March, the maximum permitted amount of trans fats in solid edible oils is set at 2% and for food industries and confectionaries at 5%.

“The import of only oils with zero amount of trans fats is allowed,” Dinarvand added.

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