I became allergic to rapeseed pollen when I was in my teens (25 years ago now!), back when it was not widespread in food. It took me years to find out I was being made ill by this cheap, nasty oil, and yes it is becoming far more widespread than ever. I’ll not go into detail about symptoms, but eating this stuff can be very, very painful. It won’t kill me, but it really hurts and is extremely unpleasant.
The food industry uses rapeseed oil for two main reasons:
To soften other fats and food products, eg. it makes your stuff ‘spreadable’ from the fridge, softens your bread rolls, adds a bit of elasticity to cakes and pastry. This is either to make the manufacturing process easier, or (obvious) to change the texture of the final product;
As a substitute for more expensive oils, eg. in mass frying processes (Walkers have just started using it for their crisps instead of the more expensive pure sunflower oil), in place of olive oil in mayonnaise and salad dressings.
The problem these days is that it can be anywhere, and it hides! Where rapeseed is not listed as a specific ingredient you can be pretty sure it’s contained in anything listed with ‘Vegetable Oils’.
Now ‘Vegetable Oil’ is fine. This is refined oil and has had virtually all the protein removed. As has already been mentioned, no protein, no reaction. However, try telling a cook in a pub that ‘Oil’ is fine but ‘Oils’ is not!
The other major problem is the ‘Pure Vegetable Oil’ label. Often found on the front of large drums of oil used in catering kitchens. Turn the drum around, and in much smaller writing it will have an ingredients list, that’s where rapeseed will be listed if it contains any.
Almost anything can contain rapeseed now, however the dry, crunchy type foods are less likely to have any in (as they don’t need to be softened). The main culprits though are:
Salad dressings and mayonnaise, and therefore coleslaw, potato salad etc. Hellmann’s is the only mayo I have found without rapeseed. Yes, Heinz often is just veg oil, but then some of their catering packs and sachets have rapeseed in!
Bread. Warburtons and Kingsmill are fine, Hovis and many, many others have the dreaded seed.
Pastries and deserts (usually the types with a biscuit base). Most pubs and mainstream restaurants buy in their deserts so often have no idea what’s in them unless someone has saved a box.
Margarine, goes without saying. Especially the spreadable stuff.
Be aware it’s fairly widespread, most European countries its called Colza, and in the States and Canada it’s Canola oil (seems to originate in Canada, lots of stuff on the net about it). And Rapeseed is the new fashionable oil to use, recommended by medics etc. so we are going to find it more and more difficult to avoid it.
From leezy2 on moneysavingexpert forum.
Canola oil is one of the oils that concerns me. It is hailed as a healthy alternative containing omega-3’s and may in fact have benefits for your heart. However, we should take a look at it’s origins to fully understand what it is so we can make an informed decision.
As opposed to most other oils, such as olive oil or sunflower oil, canola is not made from a “canola” plant. There is no such thing. In fact, this oil comes from a plant called rapeseed. The name Canola oil is a marketing ploy that was implemented as a result of the negative feedback associated with the name “rapeseed”. In the 1970’s, the term “canola” was derived from “Canadian Oil, Low Acid”.
Although changing its name may not seem like a big deal, this allows companies to essentially hide what their product is actually made from. Prior to human consumption, this oil was actually developed as a lubricant for industrial machinery. What the Canola marketing campaigns fail to inform you of is that rapeseed, the very thing canola is produced from, is toxic to humans and poisonous to nearly all other living animals! The toxicity comes in the form of erucic acid. When rapeseed is processed, the levels of erucic acid are reduced and said to be “safe for human consumption”. My concern is that toxic levels are still present, regardless of how low they are. If a person were to consume that small amount of poisonous substance regularly over the course of several years, a dangerous amount could accumulate and lead to serious illness. Considering human consumption really only started in the late 70’s or early 80’s, we really don’t have any significant long-term statistics showing that canola is safe for us.
When low quality oils are consumed, there is a decrease in nearly all aspects of your health including, but not limited to vision deterioration, central nervous system disruption, respiratory illness, blood toxicity and anemia, constipation and bowel irregularities, heart disease and cancer, low infant birth weight, irritability and depression. On top of all this, Canola is almost exclusively genetically modified.
The subject of canola is a sensitive one which is under constant debate. I believe it is important for us, as consumer, to know the facts about the products we are putting into our bodies so we can make informed decisions.
Are you comfortable consuming an oil produced from a known toxin? What are some of the healthier options you prefer?