Risks with reusing cooking oil

Some Burundians use cooking oil only once and others reuse it many times. Nutritionists advice households to use one time only, while restaurants with the right equipment can reuse oil several times.-By Diane Uwimana

Chips being fried ©Iwacu

Chips being fried ©Iwacu

Isidore Sindabarira, a nutritionist, explains that the risks in reusing cooking oil depend on different categories. “When someone does not have a deep fryer, it is recommended to use the oil for frying chips only once. When somebody uses a deep fryer such, as common in restaurants, they can reuse the oil three or four times.”
Reusing cooking oil without using a deep fryer is extremely harmful to your health, according to the nutritionist. “Reusing cooking oil increases the cholesterol, creates peroxides acid , causes cancer, attacks organ cells and can infect the white blood cells.”
“I personally never reuse cooking oil for frying chips in my household”, says N. Philomene, a mother living in Gihosha Commune, Bujumbura City Council.

She points out that after using cooking oil she prefers to pour it on the ground instead of using it again. “I ordered my housekeeper to do it as soon as possible, so as not to forget”, Philomene says.
“I have heard that using cooking oil many times causes high cholesterol. I try to do my best to avoid it and keep my family strong and healthy”, she explains. Not everybody agrees with Philomene. K. C. says that she reuses cooking oil more than twice times, because it is very expensive: “Why would I pour it on the ground, if I can use it again? I don’t see the problem, I paid for it”, she says.

 According to the information from online news (, a recent study found that a toxin called 4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal (HNE) forms when such oils as canola, corn, soybean and sunflower oils are reheated. The survey indicates that consumption of foods containing HNE from cooking oils has been associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, various liver disorders, and cancer. Once absorbed in the body, HNE reacts with DNA, RNA and proteins affecting basic cellular processes.

 Signs of Deteriorated Oil:

-Oil darkens with use because the oil and food molecules burn when subjected to high/prolonged heat.

-The more you use oil, the more slowly it will pour. Its viscosity changes because of changes to the oil’s molecular structure.

-Loose absorbent particles accumulate as sediment at the bottom of the storage container or are suspended in the oil.

-When smoke appears on the oils’ surface before the temperature reaches 190 degrees C (375 degrees F), your oil will no longer deep-fry effectively.

-If the oil has a rancid or “off” smell or if it smells like the foods you’ve cooked in it, it should be discarded.