By Bae Ji-sook
Sesame oil, cooking oil and red pepper oil were found to contain carcinogens exceeding the government-set standard.
Some of these oils, the most frequently used food oils in Korea, were made by the nation's major food makers such as Daesang, Singsong Food, CJ and Samsung Tesco's Homeplus' original manufactured brands.
The Korea Food and Drug Administration analyzed 623 edible oils distributed in the country and found 47 of them exceeded the standard. The government said it will recall 28 sesame oils, nine flavored oils, six perilla oils and two corn oil brands, all of which had more than two micrograms of benzopyrene per kilogram.
Benzopyrene is a designated carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. In the United States, there were studies that indicated eating too much of these oils can cause birth defects and European countries placed strict measures to recall all products exceeding the standard.
Benzopyrene is generated by heating or cooking oils. In sesame oil, the hydrocarbon is present in smoke generated during the sesame frying or squeezing process. Some of the producers fry sesame seeds at a high temperatures _ around 160 degrees Celsius to get tasty flavors, causing a high density of benzopyrene, the administration spokeswoman said. The organization advised the food makers install filters for the smoke.
However, there is little chance of people actually getting cancer by eating these oils. ``Koreans eat 2.8 grams of sesame oil and 5 grams of soybean oil a day, and the possibility of people eating these oils all their lives and getting cancer is only about one in a million,'' the administration's researcher Lee Dong-ha said.
The organization will monitor the recall and correction of the production and disclose the names of the oil brands on its Web site www.kfda.go.kr.