Foods and Palm Oil: Unlikely inseparable!

Jakarta – Palm oil with all its advantages has triggered pros and cons among many countries and stakeholders based on their respective interests. Being humble like the rice panicle that gets bowing while growing, despite of achievements through innovations of oleofood, oleochemicals, and renewable energy production, the palm oil has become the target of attacks by people who are against the most versatile vegetable oil.

Whether they are aware or not, those who attack the palm oil also enjoy the delicacy of various oleofood products processed from the palm oil. There are probably many Indonesian people who think palm oil as only used as the raw material for making cooking oil.

But the cooking oil is just one of various products that are processed from palm oil, which have been widely consumed by the Indonesian people as well as the global people. Even for Indonesians, the cooking oil is one of the nine basic foodstuffs (Sembako). Indonesian people have a high consumption of cooking oil due to their eating habit as they prefer foods that are cooked through deep frying.

One thing that should be understood is the fact that there are many other food products, besides the cooking oil, that can be processed from the palm oil. Globally, more than 50 percent of palm oil production is allocated as ingredients or mixture in processed food products.

Based on the report of Palm Oil Indonesia, the palm oil is preferred as ingredients in food products as it has many advantages, ranging from its characters–heat tolerant,  not easily oxidized, odorless and tasteless; to cheaper price and to its rich protein.

A number of processed foods such as margarine, shortening, vanaspati ghee, confectioneries fat, filling/cream, spread fat, filled milk, cocoa butter alternatives/substitute, biscuits, noodle, breads, ice cream, butter, yogurt, cheese, breast-milk fat substitute, and various products of emulsifiers that can be produced from palm oil. In addition to that, oil palm growers have also produced brown sugar from the palm trees that had been felled.

Due to its beneficial characters and nutritional contents that are good for human health, the palm oil has been preferred by the food industries as applicable ingredients in many processed food products. The researches conducted by global experts have shown that the palm oil is a healthy vegetable oil and not harmful to human health. The palm oil contains a relatively balanced amount of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids that are much needed by human body.

Besides, the palm oil contains no trans fats which is harmful to health. Its high contents of vitamin A, vitamin E, and other anti-oxidants can help strengthen human immunity.

The palm oil also has palmitic acid which is important in protecting the lungs. Due to its high nutrient content, the palm oil is not only potential as raw material for foods but also for products of micronutrients and vitamin A fortification.

The Palm Oil Indonesia said in a report that if associated with the sustainable development goals (SDGs), which was initiated by the United Nations (UN) as the global development platform, the palm oil has significantly contributed to the global efforts of realizing the SDGs, namely eradication of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and improvement of agriculture sustainability. (*)

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