While reusing cooking oil may seem like a way to save money, there are important reasons why it is generally not recommended. With possible negative effects on both your health and the quality of your food, sometimes it should be destined for the trash can as soon as possible.
Some people have had an experience with bad cooking oil, whether it was at home when they thought it was still good enough to use, or when they bought fast food and were left with an aftertaste of bad oil.
Lebogang Malose from Tembisa in Gauteng sells kotas and chips locally at his store, African BBQ Grillers. He believes that the quality of food is important, so cooking oil shouldn’t be reused frequently.
New batches of oil – the way to go
“Normally, I use oil for a week, then we start a new week with new oil, and we have a registered company that comes every month to fetch the oil. Every day after closing, we drain our oil and clean it, then put it inside a deep colander dish and close it,” he says.
“If you want people to take your business seriously, you first need to take yourself and the people you’re servicing seriously. We do not advise repeated usage of cooking oil because a lot can happen, such as food contamination or food poisoning, and the taste and quality change rapidly when reused a lot.”
Khethiwe Nkosi from Pretoria, who used to sell used cooking oil, says they discard it from restaurants with guidelines followed, and she keeps it in a cool, dry safe for safety.
“When reusing cooking oil, there is a change in flavour and texture, especially when reused and not stored in a cool place. To my knowledge, I’ve heard they use reused oil to make car oil or petroleum with the reused oil, so it’s better to reuse for such than to cook with the same oil repeatedly,” she says.
A health perspective
According to Pretoria-based dietitian Zandile Mengwai, it is not safe to reuse cooking because it is made up of compounds that break as you use it repeatedly and tend to be harmful to the body cells.
“Reused cooking oil releases free radicals that can damage your body cells and increase your chances of getting diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and other health problems,” she says.
Mengwai says other types of cooking oils can be reused and still be safe. She says this includes oils that are high in mono-saturated fats, which are less likely to break down into harmful compounds when reused.
She further suggests a few more things to keep in mind when choosing and reusing cooking oil:
- Refined oils, such as canola oil, soybean oil, or vegetable oil, are more stable when heated and can be a good choice for cooking. Unrefined oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, are best used for low-heat cooking or uncooked dishes.
- Keep your cooking oil in a cool, dark place to prevent it from going rancid. Rancid oil can cause free radical damage and should be avoided.
- When cooking with oil, don’t let it get too hot.
To ensure food safety and maintain the quality of one’s dishes, Mengwai suggests that it’s best to always cook with fresh oil to maintain the nutritional value of the food.
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