Effective oil quality management in S.A.

In South Africa, fried food can be considered a significant item in the diet of many people. Consequently, this has resulted in large quantities of frying oil and fat being used and consumed by our community. Attempts to bring about savings in the cost of frying oil have resulted in large quantities of oil being heated repeatedly over long periods and hence becoming severely oxidised (i.e., abused). As a result, strict regulations were published in the Government Gazette of 16 August 1996 (No. R1316), which now makes it a criminal offence in SA to use edible oils and fats containing more than 25% polar compounds or 16% polymerised triglycerides (varnish-like compounds) for frying food. These products are formed during the extensive use of any frying oil and fat and produce poor quality fried food that may injure health.

One of the core tasks of the University of the Free State (UFS) is community service. This includes aspects such as poverty alleviation, health care, and the provision of scientific information. In this sense, the university has a responsibility towards society to alert the public against any malpractices that may be misleading or harmful to the general well-being of citizens. Exposure to abusive and misrepresentative practices concerning edible oil falls into this category.

The South African Fryer Oil Initiative (SAFOI) has decided to construct a database that lists oils monitored by the UFS, as well as used oil collectors.

This action was taken based on the malpractices reported below.

  • Over-used Frying Oils in SA (1998; Fair Deal)
  • The Cooking Oil Scandal (1999; Sunday Times)
  • The Olive Oil Scandal (2001-2003; Carte Blanche)
  • The Cooking Oil Scandal (2002-2003; Spits-MNET)
  • Abuse of Frying Oil (2004; Carte Blanche)

Why this situation in SA?

  • Many frying establishments overuse their oils until they contain unhealthy breakdown products, which (according to animal experiments) may cause diseases such as arteriosclerosis, cancer, diarrhoea, etc. Many of these used unstable oils are sold to poor communities for food preparation, which may pose a health hazard.
  • Only a limited number of frying establishments know when to discard their oils before they become overused.

Please note: All oils can be abused (broken down) if good oil management practices are not followed (See Frying tips)

An easy solution to this problem!

  • Oil distributors practise the stewardship principle

  • Retailers, wholesalers, and frying establishments act as ‘watchdogs’ for the edible oil industry by buying only well-controlled oils guaranteed by impartial laboratories.

  • Frying establishments discard their used oils in time by using appropriate test kits available on the market and distributing them to used oil collectors.

Invitation to all!

We invite all oil manufacturers/distributors who manufacture and distribute well-controlled oils and used oil collectors to apply for listing and approval. It is important to note that oils not listed may still be of high quality and produced under well-controlled conditions.

Please note: The South African Fryer Oil Initiative (SAFOI) at the University of the Free State does not prefer or promote any oil over the other. All types of high-quality oils (e.g., sunflower oil, palm oil, etc.) can be used with great success in frying processes when reasonable manufacturing procedures are used (see Frying tips).

SAFOI services 2022

  • Fatty acid profiles (GC)
  • Total lipid percentage (extraction from liquids or solids)
  • Peroxide value
  • Moisture content
  • Impurities value
  • Free fatty acids/Acid Value
  • Iodine Value
  • Refractive Index
  • P-Anisidine value
  • TBA (Malondialdehyde) content
  • Rancimat analysis
  • Shelflife determination

Prof Carlien Pohl-Albertyn

Prof Carlien Pohl-Albertyn

S.A. Fryer Oil Initiative (SAFOI)

Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry

University of the Free State
P.O. Box 339, Bloemfontein, 9301
Tel: +27 51 401 9197


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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