Unbranded palm cooking oil has been fortified for several years and can be found in the market with different oxidation levels. This study aimed to investigate the stability and shelf life of unbranded, bulk, vitamin A-fortified palm oils with the most commonly observed oxidation levels in Indonesia. Three types of cooking oils were tested:
- cooking oil with a peroxide value (PV) below 2 mEq O2/kg (PO1);
- cooking oil with a PV around 4 mEq O2/kg (PO2); and
- cooking oil with a PV around 9 mEq O2/kg (PO3).
The oil shelf life was determined by using accelerated shelf life testing (ASLT), where the product was stored at 60, 75 and 90 °C, and then PV, free fatty acid and vitamin A concentration in the oil samples were measured.
The results showed that PO1 had a shelf life of between 2–3 months, while PO2’s shelf life was a few weeks and PO3’s only a few days. Even given those varying shelf lives, the vitamin A loss in the oils was still acceptable, at around 10%. However, the short shelf life of highly oxidized cooking oil, such as PO3, might negatively impact health, due to the potential increase of free radicals of the lipid peroxidation in the oil. Based on the results, the Indonesian government should prohibit the sale of highly-oxidized cooking oil. In addition, government authorities should promote and endorse the fortification of only cooking oil with low peroxide levels to ensure that fortification is not associated with any health issues associated with high oxidation levels of the cooking oil.