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Sunday, Oct 02, 2022

Veg oil margarine fuels cancer fears

Veg oil margarine fuels cancer fears

A consumer watchdog's test has found that over 90 percent of margarine samples contain genotoxic carcinogen glycidol - a substance that could increase the risk of having cancer.
The 28 spreads tested by the Consumer Council included 12 samples of butter and 16 samples of margarine and spreads.

The watchdog said of the 16 samples of margarine and spreads containing vegetable oils sold in Hong Kong, 15, or 94 percent, were all detected with glycidol at significantly disparate levels.

The detected amounts of glycidol per kilogram of the sample varied by 24 times between the samples with the lowest and highest levels.

A fat spread product - Earth Balance's Original Buttery Spread - was found to have the highest amount of glycidol, even exceeding the maximum European Union limit.

Another genetic carcinogen, benzo[a]pyrene, is more commonly found in foods cooked at high temperatures with fat. Snow Brand's Neo Soft Spread was found to contain benzo[a]pyrene at 0.8 micrograms per kilogram, but it didn't exceed the EU limit.

In addition, tests showed that 3-MCPD was detected in 13 out of 16 margarines and spreads, making more than 80 percent, but none of them exceeded the upper limit of the EU standard.

"According to foreign reports, long-term excessive daily intake of 3-MCPD can damage kidney functions, the central nervous system, and even affect the male reproductive system," said Kyrus Siu King-wai, head of publicity and community relations.

The council said that among the 13 samples in which 3-MCPD was detected, the highest level per kilogram was found in Earth Balance's Original Buttery Spread at 1,200 micrograms, followed by Constantia's Garlic Margarine at 720 micrograms, and OraSi's Vegetable fat for spread 70 percent Margarine at 520 micrograms.

Although the harmful elements were not detected in these butter samples, the council warned that its saturated fatty acid is generally higher, between 43.1 and 49.9 grams per 100 grams.

In addition, the trans fat acid content of the butter tested was generally higher than that of other margarine and spread products, causing the council to caution against excessive intake of butter.

As many Hongkongers use ham, fried egg and butter toast for breakfast, the findings showed the intake of saturated fatty acids and trans fat acid in one serving accounts for 45 percent and 20 percent of daily intake limits recommended by the Chinese Nutrition Society for adults.

"Since about half of butter is saturated fatty acids, although saturated fatty acids are more resistant to high temperatures and less likely to deteriorate after prolonged heating, excessive intake will increase the risk of cardiovascular disease," and the amount of intake "should be appropriate when eating to avoid increasing health risks," Siu said.

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