Refined Bleached Deodorised Palm Oil ("RBD Palm Oil")
In order to increase the oxidative stability and improve the nutritional properties of crude palm oil it is necessary to treat the oil by a series of processes, that are collectively known as refining. The first stage of the processing is primarily to remove the gums and pro-oxidative trace metals, and is called the degumming stage. Historically, the next stage of the process involved neutralization of the Free Fatty Acids by caustic soda, to remove them in the form of soaps. This process was known as Caustic Refining (and represents the "R" in "RBD"). The next stage utilized bleaching earth to remove pigments, oxidation products, soaps and traces of gums and heavy metals. This is called the Bleaching stage, and is represented by the "B" in "RBD". The final stage being a high-temperature vacuum deodorization mainly to remove residual pigments, and oxidation products etc, which would otherwise adversely affect the flavour, odour and rate at which the oil would turn rancid. T he Deodorization stage represents the "D" in "RBD". The fully refined oil was then termed Refined, Bleached and Deodorized Oil, or more commonly as RBD palm oil.
In the past three decades the chemical refining process scheme has gradually been superceded by the more cost-effective and more environmentally-friendly Physical refining processing scheme. In physical refining the process of caustic refining is eliminated, and the vacuum deodorization has been replaced by a higher temperature Steam stripping and deodorization processes that enables the Free Fatty Acids and other impurities to be removed without the use of caustic soda. The term in the Physical Refining indicates that chemicals have not be used to remove the fatty acids. Although caustic soda is no longer utilized in Physical refining, the term RBD is still in use to describe the fully-refined palm oil.
The refining process consists of 3 major steps :
- Degumming : To condition gums (phosphatides) and oxidative trace metals ( such as copper and iron ) with food grade phosphoric acid, citric acid, EDTA etc, for later removal with the spent earth after the bleaching stage
- Bleeching : To remove pigments, oxidation products, residual trace metals and phosphatides, and soaps
- Steam refining/deodorization : To remove fatty acids, pigments (e.g. carotenoids)
Fully-refined palm oil (RBD) is an off-white solid in cold climates, a yellowish semi-solid at room temperature, and a yellowish liquid when heated to about 45C. Fully-refined palm oil (RBD) may be fractionated into its liquid component, which is called palm olein, and its solid component, which is called palm stearin.
Fully-refined palm oil (RBD) and its fractions have many uses. Because of its good stability as compared with soft oils such as soya and canola, RBD palm oil is the preferred oil for many industrial frying operations.
Palm Olein is a very popular domestic liquid oil for frying applications, and is often blended with other oils such as Canola to improve their stability/shelf life and to minimize smoke formation during high-temperature frying applications.
Palm stearin is utilized for high temperature industrial frying applications such as in the production of instant noodles. Palm stearin is free of trans-fatty acids, and is used as a replacement for hydrogenated oils such as soyabean and Canola, such as to produce more nutritionally acceptable margarins. Palm stearin is also used in the manufacture of non-dairy creamers, ice creams etc. Palm stearin may also be utilized in non-edible applications such as in the manufacture of soaps and candles.
RBD Palm Oil is a palm oil is that largest traded oil, and as a commodity is traded in both physical and future market. Bursa Malaysian Derivatives (BMD) is the largest futures market for Crude Palm Oil, followed by the Chicago and Jade of Singapore.
Currently, China, India, the EU and Pakistan are the major buyers of RBD Palm Oil from Malaysia.
Some Information About Palm Oil
- Long record of safe use - palm oil has been a safe and nutritious source of edible oil for healthy humans for thousands of years. There is some evidence that palm oil was used in Egypt at the time of the Pharaohs some 5,000 years ago.
- Consumed worldwide - palm oil and its liquid fraction, palm olein, are consumed worldwide as as cooking oils and as constituents of margarine and shortening; these oils and fats are lso incorporated into fat blends used in the manufacture of a variety of food products as well as in home food preparations.
- Excellent dietary energy source - like other common edible oils and fats, palm oil is easily digested, absorbed and utilized in normal metabolic processes. It plays a useful role in meeting energy and essential fatty acid needs in many regions of the world.
- Free of cholesterol, and free of trans unsaturated fatty acids - palm oil, like other vegetable oils, is cholesterol free. Having a moderate level of saturation, it does not require hydrogenation for use as a fat component in foods and, as such, does not contain trans fatty acids, that are produced during the hydrogenation of polyunsaturated oils such as soyabean and Canola oils.
- Carotenoids & Tocotrienols red or golden refined palm oils are the major cooking oils in many parts of the world. Palm oil is rich of in beta-carotene, the precursor of Vitamin A, which is essential for good eyesight, and tocotrienols, which are a form of Vitamin E and are powerful antioxidants which generally promote good health.
- Balanced fatty acid composition - palm olein contains a mixture of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids. The relative concentrations are 44% oleic acid, 10% linoleic acid, 40% palmitic acid and 5% stearic acid. The unfractionated palm oil, i.e. 44% and 40% respectively. The fatty acid composition of palm oil is similar to that of the adipose tissue in most people on an ordinary diet.