Saturday, December 10

Why are they removing sunflower oil from many processed supermarket products?

On the labels of jars of mayonnaise, creams, hummus, different snacks and even confectionery products sold in supermarkets, some patches have appeared that refer to their nutritional composition, where it is explained that sunflower oil has been replaced.

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Substitutes are usually “palm olein”; “Rape substitute”, “soybean oil”… Where traditionally there was sunflower oil, which is used as a softener, thickener, stabilizer or emulsifier, now there is navina (rapeseed oil), soybean or palm oil.

Blame it on the war

They are as healthy and safe as sunflower oil, but why this change that seems more like a last minute fix? Well, actually, because it is: it is a contingency forced by the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine is known as “the granary of Europe” for its endless and fertile plains full of crops, where sunflowers also rule.

The war has caused the supply of this oil, by not planting or harvesting the crops, has fallen dramatically and therefore its price has skyrocketed. Consequently, both because of how difficult it is to find sunflower oil for industrial food production and because of its high price, manufacturers have decided to replace it in their processes with other additives that do their job.

Why don’t they change the whole label?

They are valid oils for such a function, but any change in composition must, by law, be reflected on the label. As it is a contingency that will not last forever, for the moment they have put these stickers indicating the substitution.

“It is a temporary authorization due to the lack of supply due to the war in Ukraine. They must notify it clearly and visually”, explains the technologist and pharmacist Gemma del Caño.

In fact, an informative note from the Government of March this year explained the need for these extraordinary labeling measures and authorized them, although also with certain conditions:

  • This change must be reported.
  • The information must not mislead consumers.
  • In case of having to use previous product packaging with declarations that suggest that it is a higher quality product or with added value, the operator must add an adhesive label, ink jet or equivalent system that cancels this declaration.

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