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How to Safely Reuse Frying Oil (and keep your customers happy)

Written by Janice M on . Posted in Food & Beverage, Technical Tips

Fried foods are definitely one of the most popular items on the South African food service menu.

Unfortunately, the frying oil is often so old / overheated that it has become degraded and dangerous to health, according to research conducted by the Dept of Health.

Dangers of using old, degraded Frying Oil:

  • Poor quality product with a dark appearance and unpleasant smell
  • High acidity
  • Severe stomach irritation and diarrhoea
  • Growth retardation
  • Elevated levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and heart diseases
  • Liver diseases
  • Alzheimer’s, Hunter’s and Parkinson’s diseases
  • Even death, when fed to some animals

Consequently, The South African government published a regulation that makes it an offense to use or sell cooking oil or fat which has high levels of degraded products.

South African Regulation 1316 (1996) – Edible Oils & Fats:

It is a criminal offense to use or sell edible oils or fats containing more than 25% polar compounds and / or 16% polymerised triglycerides (varnish-like compounds formed during over-use) to fry foodstuffs in South Africa.

How many times can you then reuse Frying Oil?

Unfortunately, these is no specific quantity, as this will depend on variables such as what is being fried and the frying temperatures. For example, oil for battered foods could last for a dozen batches, whilst oil used for flour dredged foods may only last for 3 – 4 batches.

How to measure the Quality of Cooking / Frying Oil:

Visible indications that the oil is degraded involve guesswork, but it should be discarded if it is too foamy, looks dark and smokes.

A more accurate and reliable method for quality checks is through the use of scientific measurements.

An establishment that frequently uses frying oil can maintain good quality of fried products by regular checks. Checking the oil quality will help you to operate within the law. At the same time, you will be able to achieve a good balance between a quality product and saving money by reusing oil until it is no longer safe to do so.

Atago® Frying Oil Monitor

Various options exist including test strips, the new Atago® Frying Oil Monitor (that operates in a way similar to a thermometer), titration and reagent testing, and more complex High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).

A food thermometer should also be used to control the temperature and ensure that temperatures range between 160 and 190°C.

The Steward’s Principle

Calls on those in the product life-cycle, namely manufacturers, retailers, users and disposers to share responsibility for the quality of frying oil. Implementation of this principle is hoped to decrease oil abuse and the on-selling of unhealthy oil wastes to the poor. More detail


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