On 29 April 2022, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) advised consumers that some food products may now contain other refined or fully refined food grade vegetable oils, despite being labelled as containing sunflower oil. This update advises consumers that fully refined palm oil, fully refined coconut oil and fully refined soybean oil are being used in some products, without changes to the label being made. Advice to consumers around the use of refined rapeseed oil due to the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on product availability has been previously provided.
This update follows a rapid risk assessment carried out by the FSA, which focused on the use of these fully refined oils on people with food allergies. The assessment found that the immediate food risk from fully refined palm oil and fully refined coconut oil is very low, while from fully refined soybean oil the risk is negligible, which means that allergic reactions to these fully refined vegetable oils are very rare and, if they do occur, are mild.
The FSA encourage industry to consider using the healthier and more sustainable oils if substituting their ingredients, while consumers should contact the manufacturer or brand for more information if they are unsure of the content of any product or have concerns about substitution. The FSA expects businesses to inform consumers about any related product change, whether that product is purchased in store or online.
Guidance has been issued to local authorities on the factors they may wish to take into consideration, to assist in making proportionate enforcement decisions on a case-by-case basis and bearing in mind wider consumer interests.
Source: FSA, 29 April 2022