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A decision made thousands of kilometres from Malaysia – in the offices of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – could have profound consequences for the future of the palm oil industry.

us-ban-trans-fatThe FDA has decided to ban partially hydrogenated vegetable oils by 2018, due to their worrying levels of trans fats content. Trans fats have been widely regarded by scientists as a major negative factor for health and well-being.

Palm oil does not contain trans fats. Its beneficial and adaptable composition means that it does not require partial hydrogenation. It can serve the same purpose in food manufacture, but without health negatives. It is therefore a natural and healthy replacement for liquid oils.

This opportunity for the palm oil industry may be expanded as European authorities consider whether or not to introduce their own restrictions on trans fats. It will require pressure to convince Europeans to take this necessary step.

Scandalous and frivolous allegations against palm oil still abound in the US and Europe. The high-profile decision by the US to ban trans fats is the opportunity palm oil needs to improve its image and, perhaps, its market share.

The Malaysian Palm Oil community has always been a byword for high-quality, responsibly-produced palm oil. We now have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to consumer health worldwide by highlighting palm oil as a replacement for products that contain trans fats.

The FDA has shown the way, and others should follow.



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