`Malaysia Criticizes WHO Advisory Against Consuming Palm Oil During Pandemic

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Malaysia Criticizes WHO Advisory Against Consuming Palm Oil During Pandemic

May. 7, 2020
Costas Vasilopoulos

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The World Health Orga­ni­za­tion’s Regional Office for the East­ern Mediter­ranean pub­lished a nutri­tion advi­sory for adult con­sumers while the COVID-19 out­break lasts, sug­gest­ing, among oth­ers, to con­sume olive, sun­flower or canola oil instead of palm or coconut oil, a rec­om­men­da­tion draw­ing crit­i­cism from Malaysia, Reuters reported.

The WHO office said those fol­low­ing a well-bal­anced diet includ­ing daily por­tions of fresh and unprocessed food tend to be health­ier with stronger immune sys­tems and lower risk of chronic and infec­tious dis­eases.”

Con­sumers should also avoid sat­u­rated fats found in fatty meat, cream, but­ter and palm and coconut oils dur­ing the pan­demic, the advi­sory noted, and instead opt for white meat and unsat­u­rated fats found in fish, nuts, avo­cado, and olive, sun­flower or canola oils.

Malaysia, the sec­ond-largest palm oil pro­ducer after Indone­sia, accused the inter­gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion of pro­mot­ing alter­na­tives to palm oil and advo­cated its impor­tance in some coun­tries.

With regards to dietary fats as a major source of calo­ries, WHO through its most recent advi­sory has again fallen into the same pre­vi­ous well of pro­mot­ing cer­tain com­mod­ity oils while brush­ing aside palm oil,” Kalyana Sun­dram, CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Coun­cil (MPOC), said.

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In coun­tries where fat con­sump­tion is below rec­om­men­da­tions of the WHO, as is the case in large parts of Asia and Africa, health focus is dif­fer­ent. The need to pro­vide a reli­able, sus­tain­able and afford­able source of calo­ries to ward of under­nu­tri­tion (and increased sus­cep­ti­bil­ity of infec­tion) is para­mount.”

Sun­dram also stated that the WHO should focus on pro­duc­ing rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent health man­age­ment ideas” instead of repeat­ing anti­quated mes­sages,” Reuters said in its report.

Palm oil is widely used as an addi­tive in many food prod­ucts, but demand has fallen sharply after the restau­rant clo­sures due to the coro­n­avirus lock­downs in many coun­tries. Indone­sia and Malaysia have also been tar­geted by envi­ron­men­tal­ists for replac­ing indige­nous forests with palm tree plan­ta­tions.



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