The zero trans fat cooking oil contest


It is widely believed that when an oil has darkened significantly, it is time to discard it. Relying on oil color is a mistake that will lead to the discarding of perfectly good oil. You should judge whether the oil has reached the end of its fry life by sampling the food for yourself. has asked the contest competitors to contribute to this discussion about oil color and fry life. This is what one of them has stated:

"The objective of frying is to produce delicious food for your customers. It stands to reason then that the most accurate method to determine oil fry life is to taste the fried food. When the quality of the fried food drops, e.g. greasy taste, burnt appearance, limp texture, it’s time to change the oil! A variety of color kits, paper strips and various electronic gadgets have been marketed to operators to determine when the oil should be discarded. Such tools overlook the obvious -- an experienced cook can assess oil quality just by sampling the fried food.

Most restaurant kitchens have color tubes supplied by their distributor or branded manufacturer to assess oil quality. According to the instructions, the oil has reached its discard point when it darkens to the color of the tube. Such kits represent primarily a marketing tool for the oil supplier and may lead to dumping oil long before it reaches the end of fry life.

These kits do not provide scientific determination of oil performance. The reasons are as follows:

1. Different oils darken at different rates.

2. The color of the oil typically is not reflected in the color of the food.

3. Oils with more natural anti-oxidants, which are naturally more robust, will darken more than oils with lower levels of natural anti-oxidants.

4. Oil color is greatly affected by the type of batter on the par fry."



Texas A&M has completed the testing of ten oils in the zero trans fat cooking oil contest. The results are posted on the List of Oils & Results page.

Contest Pictures

Click on the image below to see pictures of the oil contest.