January 27, 2017 / 5:55 PM / 6 months ago

EU food safety body to look again at palm oil health risks

2 Min Read

MILAN (Reuters) - The European Food Safety Authority will re-examine its warning on health risks stemming from palm and other vegetable oils, a spokeswoman at the European body said in light of a recent study expressing less concern than EFSA.

Food producers across Europe are closely monitoring independent authorities' indications on health risks related to palm oil, a low-cost ingredient which is used in a wide range of products from biscuits to chocolate spreads.

Last May the Italian-based EFSA said palm oil generated more of a potentially carcinogenic contaminant than other vegetable oils when refined at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius. It did not, however, recommend consumers stop eating it.

In Italy the warning triggered a consumer backlash against foods containing the oil, pushing the country's largest supermarket chain Coop to boycott it.

Barilla, Italy's largest producer of baked goods, eliminated palm oil after EFSA's opinion, but Nutella maker Ferrero mounted an advertising campaign to defend its use.

EFSA scientists will take into account a report the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published in November.

In the study, the WHO and FAO flagged the same potential risk regarding contaminants produced when refining vegetable oils, but were less concerned about consumers' exposure to some of these substances.

Reporting by Francesca Landini, editing by David Evans

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