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Fat pollutants: Many margarines fail the Öko-Test
Many people who put margarine on bread instead of butter in the morning justify this because the vegetable spread is more environmentally friendly and healthier. But a current study by the consumer magazine "Öko-Test" shows that even organic margarines contain harmful substances. In addition, palm oil, which is controversial for environmental protection reasons, is often used for the production.
Healthier and more environmentally friendly?
Germans are divided on the question of whether butter or margarine should be on bread in the morning. While per capita consumption of margarine in Germany is around five kilos per year, that of butter is around six kilograms. Many who choose the plant-based variant do so because they want to do without animal products, others because margarine is often considered to be healthier. However, as a recent study by the consumer magazine "Öko-Test" showed, numerous margarines - including organic products - are contaminated with harmful substances.
Many margarines fail the test
When the experts at the Stiftung Warentest recently examined 19 margarines more closely, it became clear that many cheap margarines are also good. Only one product failed with "poor".
In a current study by "Öko-Test", the results were significantly worse. The experts tested a total of 20 products and rated six of them as “poor” and five as “unsatisfactory”.
Among the failed brands was, among others, a particularly well known one. The results of the investigation can be viewed for a fee on the “Öko-Test” website.
Deforestation for palm oil plantations
Margarine consists of 30 percent palm oil. The most commonly used vegetable oil in the world is obtained from the fruits of the oil palm and, according to the nature and environmental protection organization “WWF”, is currently contained in about every second supermarket product.
The problem here: hectares of rainforest are being cut down for production. This has serious consequences such as the emission of immense amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the loss of biodiversity.
Many manufacturers are now using palm oil with RSPO certification, which confirms that the oil comes from sustainable production.
However, a current study by the "Öko-Test" magazine shows that this certificate, too, does not appear to be a guarantee that the criteria for environmentally friendly production are actually being fully complied with.
20 margarines and spreads in the test
“Öko-Test” examined 20 different margarines and spreadable fats in the laboratory, including the four organic products “Alnatura Margarine three-quarter fat”, “Rapunzel Prima Pure Vegetable Margarine”, “Alsan-Bio Margarine” and “Landkrone Bio-Margarine”.
Since all tested products contain palm oil, the testers asked the manufacturers for proof of the origin of the oil or evidence of the RSPO certification.
According to the magazine's report, the testers received answers to 19 of the products tested, according to which 18 should only contain palm oil certified according to the RSPO standard.
Not all manufacturers submit receipts
Significant evidence of the entire manufacturing process was, however, only provided by the organic suppliers and the conventional manufacturers Walter Rau and Vandemoortele - each for the respective discounter products.
Sustainably produced palm oil can therefore be found in "Deli Reform Das Original", "Landkost Plant Margarine" and the margarines from Aldi Süd, Norma and Globus (produced by Walter Rau) as well as those from Aldi Nord, Kaufland and Lidl (produced by Vandemoortele).
The global group Unilever, on the other hand, did not provide evidence for its four tested products ("Homa Gold", "Becel Gold", "Rama Dreiviertelfett" and "Flora Vegetable Margarine"), so that "Öko-Test" met the criteria of the sent RSPO certificate rated only as "partially" fulfilled.
From the experts' point of view, REWE was also only able to "partially prove" the required criteria, and the provider Heirler made no statements for its product "Eden Die Gute Vegetable Margarine with Sunflower Oil" from the health food store.
Fat pollutants in organic products
The experts also made some unpleasant discoveries in the laboratory. All four organic margarines tested therefore contained fatty pollutants, with the highest exposure being found in the Alsan organic margarine.
In addition, three of the four organic margarines were given only a “satisfactory” (Rapunzel, Alsan) or “sufficient” (crown of the land) fat composition because they provide plenty of saturated but not very unsaturated fatty acids.
This can be detrimental to health, because according to studies, eating a diet rich in saturated fatty acids increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
In the overall assessment, only the Alnatura margarine achieved a “satisfactory” for the organic spreadable fats, all others received a “sufficient” or even “insufficient”.
It is also unpleasant that all four organic products measured increased to greatly increased levels of saturated mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOSH / POSH).
These are suspected to be potentially carcinogenic and should therefore be used as little as possible in food. Heirler's “Eden Die Gute” achieved the highest value here.
"It is annoying. All four organic brands are heavily polluted. Why don't the manufacturers manage to get a better grip on it? ”Says the Öko-Test editor and nutritionist, Birgit Hinsch, according to the magazine.
Discounter margarine performs best
A total of six of the spreadable fats tested achieved a "poor", including e.g. "Becel Gold", the "Yes! Plant Margarine ”by Rewe,“ Bellasan ”by Aldi Süd and“ Landkost Plant Margarine ”by Walter Rau.
The well-known "Rama" by Unilver, "Frisan" by Norma and "Eden the Good" as well as two other products were rated as "insufficient" by the experts.
The best overall rating was given to "Deli Reform Das Original" by Walter Rau, "K-Classic Plant Margarine" by Kaufland and "Vita D'Or Classic by Lidl" (both from producer Vandemoortele).
These three came to a "satisfactory" for the ingredients and a "very good" for the fat composition, and all of them were able to provide the necessary evidence for RSPO certification.
Controversial palm oil
Many experts criticize the fact that palm oil is used for the production of margarine. Among other things, this oil is suspected of being involved in the development of cancer and cardiovascular diseases if heated excessively.
However, producers point out that this fat is excellently suited for the production of margarine and that there is as yet no final assessment of the health risk.
In addition, "Claims that palm oil is only used because it is cheaper" are not correct, writes Alsan, whose margarine did poorly in the test.
In addition, the company emphasized in the statement that the fat pollutants are below the values proposed by the EU Commission.
And Landkrone announced on its website that there are no legal regulations for the fat pollutants. (ad)