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Debunk Internet Rumour about Canola:
Canadian Canola products are in high demand around the world.
Canola is not banned in Europe.

Recently, rumours regarding the alleged negative health effects of consuming canola oil have been circulating among various sites on the Internet. The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) would like to point out that these allegations are not supported by science and as such, cannot be taken as factual. Furthermore, misrepresenting the facts in this manner is harmful to consumers who have the right to make health decisions for themselves and their families according to information which is based on sound, science-based evidence.

Canadian canola products are in high demand around the world.  Canola is one of Canada's most valuable crops. The United States is our largest importer followed by China and Japan. In  Europe, Portugal, Germany and Belgium are the leading importers of Canadian canola.

Canada's food safety system has a reputation for being among the world's best and Canadian agri-food products continue to be safe, high-quality choices for consumers. The CTOT hopes that Taiwanese consumers, like Canadians, will make informed choices and continue to enjoy the benefits of canola oil and other quality food products produced in Canada.


1. Myth: Canola oil is used as insect repellent, hence, it is poisonous.

Truth: Pour any cooking oil - canola, olive, corn, sunflower or peanut - over an insect and it will suffocate. All of these cooking oils, including canola oil, have been thoroughly tested and are safe for human consumption based on the evaluation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Vegetable oils in general are recommended by many horticulturists as a non-chemical, more environmentally-friendly insect control method.

2. Myth: Canola oil is an “industrial oil” for lubricants, not an edible oil.

Truth: Canola oil is primarily an edible oil - one of the healthiest ones in the world - for human food consumption. But canola oil can also be used in lubricants, fuels, soap and other products. In fact, any organic hydrocarbon, including all vegetable oils, can be processed and denatured to make industrial chemicals. Oils from canola, olives, corn, soybeans and flax can all be used to make a wide range of non-food items, including cosmetics, soaps, paints, lubricants, plastics and more. Vegetable oils can even be used to make biodiesel.

3. Myth: Canola oil is related to mad cow disease and scrapie.

Truth: There is no connection between mad cow disease, scrapie and canola oil. Mad cow disease is a brain disorder of livestock caused by errant protein structures called prions. These protein structures cause the decay of synapses, nerves and cells in the brain. In England, where outbreaks of mad cow disease occurred, cattle are not typically fed canola meal as part of their diet. The transmission of mad cow disease occurs when rendered animal tissue from diseased livestock is added to cattle feed. Scrapie is the mad cow equivalent in sheep.

4. Myth: Canola oil is the key ingredient in mustard gas, a poison used in chemical weapons.

Truth: Canola - along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, watercress and horseradish - is part of the genus Brassica, which is part of the mustard family of plants. Although members of this family are occasionally mistaken for ingredients in mustard gas, they have nothing to do with it. Mustard gas got its name from its mustard-like odor. It bears no relation to canola or any other plant member of the mustard family.

5. Myth: In animal clinical studies, canola oil can cause fatty degeneration of the heart, kidneys and adrenal and thyroid glands.

Truth: The ingestion of canola meal for animal feed or oil for human consumption presents no known toxicity in either crude or refined states. Erucic acid, the substance that gives mustard its tangy bite, at one time was mistakenly thought to be unhealthy. Studies of rats have shown heart lesions, blamed on erucic acid, when the diet was 20 percent rapeseed oil, a level which would never be reached in any reasonable diet. Even so, the same effect can be produced by other oils when they are consumed at such a disproportionate level. Recent laboratory research on canola and many other oils has demonstrated that earlier findings were flawed. Unfortunately, those earlier flawed studies continue to be cited in error. Rats are a poor biological model and process fats poorly. Thus, rat studies have proven unreliable in the clinical application of these results in comparing fat metabolism in humans. Canola oil by definition and law must be very low in erucic acid (less than 2 percent). In contrast, mustard oil contains 42 percent erucic acid and is widely consumed in some countries. Erucic acid was bred out of canola oil to create a more neutral flavor, not because of health considerations.

6. Myth: Canola oil is the genetically modified version of rapeseed oil with lower erucic acid.

Truth: Through traditional cross-breeding, scientists eliminated the unwanted traits (erucic acid and glucosinolates) of rapeseed in canola in the late 1950s and 1960s, replacing the erucic acid with oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat. Genetic modification of crops through modern biotechnology was not invented or performed at this time. Only in recent years has modern biotechnology been used to make specific canola varieties tolerant to herbicides, allowing for better weed control and less use of herbicides.

7. Myth: Canola oil is rich in a C-22 fatty acid, which can damage myelin in the human nervous system.

Truth: Canola oil's fatty acid profile consists predominantly (93 percent) of the 18-carbon (C-18) unsaturated fatty acids oleic acid (omega-9), linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). Its remaining 7 percent includes the 18-carbon and 16-carbon saturated fatty acids stearic and palmitic acids, respectively. Canola oil does not cause or contribute to any disease and in fact, it can improve health. The positive effects of canola oil's unsaturated fatty acids on certain health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, are well documented. Erucic acid, which is in rapeseed and mustard oils, but not canola oil, is a 22-carbon (C-22) fatty acid.

8. Myth: Canola oil is extracted with hexane and treaded in further processes that reach 300 °F.  In order to maintain stability, canola oil is then hydrogenated and contains up to 40 percent trans fat.

Truth: Canola oil is processed no differently than any other refined seed-based oil such as soybean, safflower, sunflower or sesame. These oilseeds are crushed by a mechanical press, then most of the residual oil is removed through hexane extraction at high heat. Cooking oils are refined for shelf stability, removal of impurities and a milder taste. Liquid canola oil contains only a trace amount of trans fat that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada view as zero in terms of nutrition labeling. Vegetable oils, such as canola and soybean oils, are sometimes partially hydrogenated to create semi-solid fat for use in margarines and food products, which do contain significant amounts of trans fat. However, partially hydrogenated oils are being phased out in North America due to health considerations. Note that liquid vegetable oils at retail, including canola oil, do not contain trans fat and are labeled as such.

Canola Myths Debunked Information Download

If you have any further questions or concerns regarding Canadian canola oil, please contact Ms. Karen Huang or click Canola Council of Canada's website (http://www.canolacouncil.org) for further information.


Karen Huang 黃慧怡
Trade Commissioner  資深商務經理 (農漁業與食品)
Canadian Trade Office in Taipei 加拿大駐台北貿易辦事處
Tel: 886-2-8723-3000, Extension 3293366
Fax: 886-2-8723-3595
E-mail: karen.huang@international.gc.ca


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