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Palm Oil Health Awareness Evening Forum and Dinner

Date: 18 February 2023
Time: 5.30 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Venue: Clearwater Room (M Floor), Riverside Majestic Hotel – Puteri Wing, Kuching, Sarawak

A Palm Oil Health Awareness Evening Forum and Dinner was held in Kuching, Sarawak on 18th February 2023, in collaboration with the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Sarawak Branch. The theme, “Palm Bioactives for General Well-Being”, is aimed to enlighten Malaysian health professionals such as doctors on the nutritional benefits of palm oil in our efforts to broaden their understanding of an important commodity to our country, i.e. palm oil.

Event emcee - Dr Leonard Goh, MMA Sarawak Branch SCHOMOS Chairman

Opening remarks by Dr Ruslan Abdullah, Director of Science, Environment & Sustainability

Doctors, pharmacists, and medical students from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), were among those who attended the event. This event serves as a platform to share recent information on palm oil nutrition and its health benefits and impact to human health.

Two papers were presented at the event. The first paper, titled “Health-Promoting Benefits of Red Palm Oil,” was delivered by Dr. Radhika Loganathan, a Research Officer at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB). The manufacturing of red palm oil, its nutrient contents (especially carotenoids and vitamin E tocotrienols), as well as the health benefits of red palm oil, were covered by Dr. Radhika. She also discussed the intervention research using red palm oil biscuits to combat vitamin A deficiency among children in developing countries.

Dr Radhika Loganathan, Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB)

The second speaker, Associate Professor Dr. Zulfitri ‘Azuan Mat Daud, is a practising dietitian, and also a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). In his lecture, Dr. Zulfitri emphasised the roles of palm vitamin E tocotrienols in renal disease management. He also presented to the audience the preliminary findings of his ongoing research on Palm Tocotrienols in Chronic Hemodialysis (PATCH-Malaysia) project.

Assoc. Prof. Dr Zulfitri ‘Azuan, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

The Q&A session was moderated by Dr. Ruslan Abdullah, Director of MPOC’s Science, Environment & Sustainability Division. The session was very interactive with questions raised and actively discussed.  Among the questions asked include:

  1. What is the practical temperature to use red palm oil for food preparation that will not affect its benefits?
  2. What are the determining factors from your study on dyslipidemia?
  3. What is the form of Coenzyme Q10 that is present in palm oil, is it ubiquinone or ubiquinol?
  4. What is your hypothesis in regards to vitamin E to glomerular and jugular function in chronic kidney disease?
  5. Can the two types of red palm oil processing methods be used as a marketing gimmicks to equate it to be similar to extra virgin olive oil?
  6. Is there a possibility of producing Malaysian Extra Virgin Red Palm Oil? 
  7. What are the chemicals used in the chemical refining of red palm oil if any?
  8. Palm oil causes deforestation, endangering orangutan species and also there are numerous child labour issues linked to palm oil. Apart from that there is also an anti-palm oil campaign going on, especially in the UK. What are your responses on these in supporting palm oil?
  9. What are the steps taken by MOH and MPOC to raise awareness of palm oil among Malaysian citizens?

Q&A session moderated by Dr Ruslan Abdullah, featuring the two speakers, Dr Radhika and Assoc. Prof. Dr Zulfitri ‘Azuan

Snapshots of participants during the Q&A session

In addition to the seminar, exhibitions were also set up to display palm-based products. Apart from MPOC, two other companies took part in the exhibition, namely SOP Foods Sdn Bhd and Hovid Sdn Bhd. The MPOC booth featured palm-based non-food products (e.g. soap, hand lotion, laundry detergents), cosmetics (e.g. lipstick, lip balm, foundation, sunblock, moisturizer), personal care products, and palm-based food products (e.g. peanut butter, margarine, high-fibre crackers, cereals, infant formula). Besides providing participants with free red palm oil cookies, SOP Foods Sdn Bhd also promoted its recently developed margarine, premium red palm oil, and classic red palm oil. Hovid Sdn Bhd promotes Tocovid Suprabio – Promemo, a new supplement for general health that combines palm vitamin E tocotrienols, vitamin B, and folic acid, during the event.

MPOC booth

Hovid Sdn Bhd booth

SOP Foods Sdn Bhd booth

In addition to the seminar, exhibitions were also set up to display palm-based products. Apart from MPOC, two other companies took part in the exhibition, namely SOP Foods Sdn Bhd and Hovid Sdn Bhd. The MPOC booth featured palm-based non-food products (e.g. soap, hand lotion, laundry detergents), cosmetics (e.g. lipstick, lip balm, foundation, sunblock, moisturizer), personal care products, and palm-based food products (e.g. peanut butter, margarine, high-fibre crackers, cereals, infant formula). Besides providing participants with free red palm oil cookies, SOP Foods Sdn Bhd also promoted its recently developed margarine, premium red palm oil, and classic red palm oil. Hovid Sdn Bhd promotes Tocovid Suprabio – Promemo, a new supplement for general health that combines palm vitamin E tocotrienols, vitamin B, and folic acid, during the event.

Snapshots of participants who attended the event

Papers

Paper 1 : Health-Promoting Effects of Red Palm Oil by Dr Radhika Loganathan

Dr. Radhika Loganathan is a Senior Research Officer under the Nutrition Unit of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB). She offers 12 years of expertise in palm oil nutrition focusing on red palm oil and phytonutrient research. She graduated as Biochemist from the University of Malaya (UM). She holds an MSc. Medical Sciences from the International Medical University and a Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from UM under MPOB scholarship. She was the recipient of the “Saintis Harapan MPOB 2023”, “JOS Best Author Award 2020”, “SFRR Young Scientist Award 2011”, “Best of the Best Poster Award from PIPOC 2015”, “JKP Gemilang Award 2006 from UM” and several internal awards from MPOB.

Paper 2 : Palm Bioactives for Renal Health by Associate Professor Dr Zulfitri ‘Azuan Mat Daud

Dr. Zulfitri is an academician-dietitian and currently serve as an associate professor at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). Dietitian specialization in renal care is relatively low in Malaysia and in many other developing countries. Therefore, Dr. Zulfitri is actively advocating the role of dietitians in nephrology practices and developing his peer influence in renal nutrition in Malaysia through academic teaching, research, networking and capacity building for dietitians. Dr. Zulfitri’s research focuses on multi-faceted nutritional intervention for advanced chronic kidney diseases (CKD) patients in view of heightened inflammation and increased prevalent of protein energy wasting (PEW) in this population. He is also exploring metabolomics approach to understand metabolic alterations of PEW and corresponding abnormal metabolites that could potentially serve as biomarkers of PEW as well as to specifically identify the impact of nutritional intervention on metabolites profiles. Some of his current research activities include a multi-centers clinical trial on palm tocotrienols that involving dialysis centers in Malaysia, Bangladesh, India and the United States of America.