The Tropical Oils Scare [2]

Seeing the anti saturated fat campaign as a means to increase their profits, the pharmaceutical and the weight loss industries joined in the attack. Special interest groups such as The Center for science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the National Heart Savers Association jumped on the bandwagon and started producing alarming news stories and advertisements attacking animal fats and tropical oils.

The CSPI, a staunchly anti-saturated fat organization, was especially aggressive in their attack on tropical oils. In 1988, CSPI published a booklet called Saturated Fat Attack. One section titled "Those Troublesome Tropical Oils," encouraged food processors to put warnings on their labels. CSPI apparently never took the time to actually study the issue and research the health effects of these oils. If they had done so, they would have found a wealth of information exonerating these oils from any wrongdoing. But in their zeal to condemn all saturated fats, they blindly attacked the tropical oils. Because of their limited understanding of fat and oil biochemistry, the booklet contained many errors and distorted the facts. Readers unaware of the shortcomings of the booklet were swayed against the tropical oils.

The media bombarded the public so frequently with anti-saturated fat, anti-tropical oil rhetoric that eventually everyone began to believe that palm and coconut oils caused heart disease. This anti saturated fat campaign wasn't just an American battle; it spread throughout the world. Even in countries were the tropical oils were produced and widely used, people were frightened into believing the oils were dangerous.

Fueled by the relentless attack from the CSPI, commercial and consumer groups started lobbying the government to require a health warning on products containing tropical oils. Food began to appear with the statement "contains no tropical oils" proudly displayed on the label. Tropical oil producers from the Philippines, Malaysia and elsewhere, unable to match the financial promotional efforts of the soybean industry, protested the smear campaign used to attack their products.

In June of 1988, congressional hearings were held to settle the tropical oils issue. The domestic vegetable oil industry had their "experts" testify about the dangers of tropical oils. Lipid researchers not on the payrolls of the vegetable oil industry were also called to testify. Dr. George Blackburn, a Harvard Medical School researcher, testified that these oils do not have a harmful effect on blood cholesterol even in situations where they serve as the sole source of fat. It was pointed out that palm and coconut oils have been consumed as a substantial part of the diet of many groups of people for thousands of years with absolutely no evidence of any harmful effects. At the end of the hearings, the evidence against the tropical oils didn't stack up. And no health warning went into effect. Companies who had begun using the "no tropical oils" claim on their products were told to remove the statement because it implied an unsubstantiated health claim.

Researchers familiar with palm and coconut oils couldn't understand all the criticism. Studies clearly showed that the tropical oils did not promote heart disease. If anything, they help protect against it. To all those who knew the facts about these oils, this was not a health issue at all, but a profit motivated publicity campaign. Dr. C. Everett Koop, the surgeon general of the US at the time, called the tropical oil scare "Foolishness!" and added, "but to get the word to commercial interests terrorizing the public about nothing is another matter."

The failure of CSPI and the vegetable oil industry to income a health claim against the tropical oils didn't stop them. They continued to condemn tropical oils as "artery clogging" saturated fats. People fell for it. Animal fat and tropical oil consumption declined and vegetable oil sales skyrocketed.

Restaurants and food producers sensitive to customer fear of saturated fats began removing tropical oils and other saturated fats from their products and replacing them with vegetable oils. Fast food chains proudly announced that they had switched to healthier vegetable oils for frying. By the early 1990s, tropical oils had virtually disappeared from the American diet as well as the diets of most other Western countries. Even in countries that produced the tropical oils, palm and coconut oils were on the decline. Sales of soybean oil rapidly increased worldwide. CSPI proudly proclaimed its victory against tropical oils.***

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2 comments :

  1. i wont even allow foods that contain corn,soy,canola or cottonseed oils into my house, i do not eat in restaurants or other peoples homes, i started using coconut,palm and sesame oil 6 yrs ago, today i am 47 yrs old and i am far healthier than i was at 27 and 37, my depression is gone, i am leaner, dont get colds or flu anymore and i dont have near as much arthritis as i used to, in the last six years i have been harrased by family,friends and coworkers for using coconut oil, hahaha. i live out in the country, across the road is a huge soybean feild, i work 3rd shift, when i get home in the mornings i walk over and piss in the feild, hahaha, thats what i think of soy, hahaha

    ReplyDelete
  2. i wont even allow foods that contain corn,soy,canola or cottonseed oils into my house, i do not eat in restaurants or other peoples homes, i started using coconut,palm and sesame oil 6 yrs ago, today i am 47 yrs old and i am far healthier than i was at 27 and 37, my depression is gone, i am leaner, dont get colds or flu anymore and i dont have near as much arthritis as i used to, in the last six years i have been harrased by family,friends and coworkers for using coconut oil, hahaha. i live out in the country, across the road is a huge soybean feild, i work 3rd shift, when i get home in the mornings i walk over and piss in the feild, hahaha, thats what i think of soy, hahaha

    ReplyDelete


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