The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has directed restaurants not to reuse cooking oil more than three times from March 3. Restaurants will now have to monitor oil usage regularly.
Repeated frying of oil leads to changes in physiochemical, nutritional and sensory properties. During the frying process, total polar compounds (TPC) are formed which can have adverse effects on health, the order stated.
The maximum TPC prescribed is 25 per cent, beyond which oil is not suitable for use.
Not all restaurateurs are happy about the notice. Jaydev, head chef of Copacabana, says, “It’s still unclear how we should go about it. If we are not allowed to use it more than thrice, we will have no other option but to up the price of the food which will not be favourable to the customers.”
Jaydev says he and his team discard oil every day. “We keep it in a tin and throw it away when the tin is full,” he says.
Prarthana Prathap, partner at Sotally Tober, says, “We heard about this through others in the industry but we haven’t got anything officially. The details are also unclear.”
She reckons it might not make too much of a difference to her since she changes the oil every two days.
“It’s not possible to change it after every usage — we will be wasting so much oil then. We use separate oil for vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes,” she says.
So what exactly does the rule say and what should the hoteliers be following by March 3?
All food business operators whose consumption of edible oils for frying exceeds 50 litres a day are now required to maintain a record and dispose of used cooking oil to agencies authorised by FSSAI or the Commissioner of Food Safety of the respective states from time to time.
It also states that then the oil develops TPC of more than 25 per cent, it cannot be topped with fresh oil.
Some restaurants use equipment that helps them maintain the oil temperature. Chef Sandeep, head chef of Byg Brewski Brewing Company, explains, “Our menu largely consists of fried food. We can’t think of discarding it after every usage so we use deep fat fries which help us control the temperature. Anything below a 180° centigrade can result in oily food and anything above 200° centigrade can burn the item. The equipment ensures that the temperature of oil stays within the deep frying temperature so that we can maintain the quality of the food.”
He also says his kitchen changes oil every day but if the flour spoils the oil, it goes in for fresh oil.
“We train our staff to utilise the oil to its maximum but also to use it effectively. And just like segregating wet and dry waste, we store the oil and sell it to vendors who come and pick it up,” he says.
Selling the used oil vendors is a common practice among restaurateurs. At a fast-food joint on Church Street, staff collect the excess oil and wait for the vendors to pick it up twice or thrice a week.
The vendors usually come on cycles and collect used oil tins. The money collected from this is then distributed between the staff.
The owner, who did not wish to be named, told Metrolife that this has been working well.
“Little street food joints tend to use oil repeatedly as they can’t really buy tonnes of oil like commercial kitchens; the customers don’t complain either. However, for us, even on days we don’t have too many customers, we change the oil twice a day,” he says.
Poor hygiene and quality can take a toll on health and it’s important for the authorities to monitor these aspects closely, he says.
However, the question remains: How will the new regulation be implemented?