Thursday, October 08, 2009

The End Of Econa Oil

Kao Corporation has had to bite the bullet and pull its best-selling Econa Oil from the market. The reason is concern that the product contained glycidol fatty acid esters. It was reported that glycidol fatty acid esters occur as a by-product in the general process of deodorization (getting rid of foul smells) during the production of the oil, and are contained in processed vegetable oils.

This is a mess because since 2003, the oils have carried a FOSHU Health Label, and was promoted as aiding "in the maintenance or loss of weight and fat mass, and helps to maintain healthy triglyceride levels in the bloodstream." ADM, the huge American company, has also been involved in the manufacturing, marketing and sales of diacylglycerol (DAG) oil as an ingredient for the food industry since 2001.

Well, good riddance. Unfortunately, it was one of the 555 products I recommended in my food safety book. You will not see Econa Oil in the next edition.

FOSHU refers to foods containing ingredients with "functions for health and officially approved to claim its physiological effects on the human body."

FOSHU is intended to be consumed for the maintenance / promotion of health or special health uses by people who wish to control health conditions, including blood pressure or blood cholesterol. In order to sell a food as FOSHU, the assessment for the safety of the food and effectiveness of the functions for health is required, and the claim must be approved by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Sounds like it is time for a review of the policies that called FOSHU healthy back 5-10 years ago. While many of us were exploring organic foods, with as little processing as possible, and no food additives, the large companies introduced FOSHU with a lot of fanfare.

Litra, a similar product in South Korea, from a food oil company called CJ Cheil Jedang is also in the news for the same reasons, CJ having stopped sales of its product.

The Mainichi: Kao to suspend sales of Econa health foods over cancer-causing fears

Major consumer goods manufacturer Kao Corp. has announced that it will suspend sales of its Econa health food series from Thursday over fears that the goods may possibly contain a cancer-causing chemical.

The shipment and sale of a total of 59 Econa products will be suspended due to their use of glycidol fatty acid ester, a chemical that could cause cancer, a company official said. Kao's Econa series, including cooking oils and dressings, have been designated as special health food products by the health ministry.

The danger of glycidol fatty acid ester has been pointed out in Europe. Japan's Food Safety Commission is also currently assessing the risk.


bonlynna said...

Cleaning out shelves I found enova oil (I used 2 or 3 ounces last year but didn't like the taste).

I go online to find out just how fabulous diacylglycerol is (first enova ingredient)... no warning on company website -only a big bottle of enova saying Sorry it is no longer available & phone number for questions.

Diacylglycerol isn't fabulous but your site & warning are. Thanks -I threw out remaining oil out.


Martin J Frid said...

Thanks Bonnie for that kind comment. I'm surprised the company has so little information. That's rather dishonest.

I should write something about how to throw away old food oil. It is not a good idea to pour it down the drain. It can clog the pipes and get stuck with other muck. Also, here in Japan, they have campaigns showing how discarded fried oil (esp. tempura) can cause damage in rivers and lakes. The best way seems to be to add it to something that makes it solid, and then throw it in the regular garbage instead.