Is Canola Oil the Same as Rapeseed Oil?


       People often get confused about the difference between canola oil and rapeseed oil. The former is a common cooking oil and the latter is often added to animal feeds, which is a plant-based oil extracted from the seeds of the rapeseed plants. In recent years, scientific studies indicated that rapeseed oil contains high levels of erucic acid, which may damage the cardiac tissues of experimental animals when ingested in excess amounts. However, so far, there is insufficient scientific evidence supporting relevance between high levels of erucic acid and the cardiac hazard. It is not medically known if it would cause the same damage to human body.


       The canola plant is a varietal of the rapeseed plant developed from its natural crossbreeding and hence its oil, extracted from its seeds after a series of purifying process, which is different from the rapeseed oil. This plant-based edible oil is low in erucic acid (less than 2% of the total fatty acids), high in unsaturated fats and contains linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid, which are essential fatty acids that human body is unable to produce. Canola oil ingestion, of adequate amounts, is beneficial to health.


Food safety tips:

  • Canola oil is safe for human consumption and its health benefits become more pronounced in a balanced diet;
  • Upon purchase of cooking oil, check whether its packaging is kept clean and intact. Read its food label carefully and note its expiry date;
  • Keep cooking oil in a clean, cool and well-ventilated place and avoid exposure to direct sunlight;
  • Any cooking oil with an objectionable odour is unfit for use or consumption;
  • Across social media, it has been rumoured for years that canola oil is banned in Europe for posing health hazards. However, authoritative institutions have dismissed the rumour as untrue and there is no scientific evidence backing this claim. Nevertheless, the rumour cycle repeats at times. The Food Safety Department of IAM urges the public that upon hearing rumours about food safety issues, they have to verify their truthfulness and never fall victim to them.