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Canola Oil at Whole Foods Market

Canola oil at Whole Foods Market

Canola oil has been the subject of much misinformation over the years, and we’d like to set the record straight.

What is canola oil?

Canola oil comes from a specifically bred variety of rapeseed, which is part of the mustard family along with kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Rapeseed oil has been a part of traditional diets in Eastern Europe, especially Poland, India, Japan, China and Canada for thousands of years.

Myth: All canola oil is GMO (a Genetically Modified Organism)

Actually, the development of canola oil predated genetic engineering by almost 20 years. Canola was bred using traditional plant breeding methods. These methods involve selecting desired traits followed by crossing these traits into existing varieties until the offspring exhibit the desired characteristics. While it is true that canola oil was not originally developed using genetic engineering methods, some forms of canola are genetically engineered today. To avoid genetically engineered canola oil, you can choose organic canola oil, which by definition would not be genetically modified, or canola oil that has been non-GMO verified.

At Whole Foods Market we only use non-GMO canola oil in the prepared foods we make in-house. We also feature many varieties of non-GMO and certified organic canola oil on our shelves.

Myth: All canola oil is extracted with chemical solvents.

Vegetable oils can be extracted by one of two major methods: They can be expeller pressed (a mechanical process which literally squeezes the oil out of the vegetable) or solvent extracted (a chemical process whereby a solvent, usually hexane, is used to remove the oil). At Whole Foods Market, our Quality Standards require that all bottled oils in our stores be expeller pressed. The non-GMO canola oil used in our kitchens is expeller-pressed. 

Myth: Canola oil is associated with health problems like… mad cow disease?

We’ve heard from customers who’ve read that canola oil is associated with everything from mad cow disease to glaucoma, but the fact is, none of the purported side effects associated with eating canola oil that we’ve heard about from customers have ever been reported in medical journals.

Why does Whole Foods Market use canola oil in their Prepared Foods?

We use canola oil in many of our Prepared Foods recipes because it is very versatile. Canola is fairly heat stable, so it is suitable for all types of cooking, and it has a neutral flavor, making it suitable for all kinds of dishes. We only use non-GMO, expeller pressed canola oil in all of our in-house Prepared Foods. If you’re looking for alternatives to dishes made with canola oil, please ask a Team Member. Many of our dishes don’t contain canola oil, and Health Starts Here™ dishes contain no added oil at all!  

Blog post updated on 2/23/15.

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52 comments

Comments

Phil says …

True or false: where as the raw foods at the Whole Foods deli are labeled organic, the prepared foods are not organic at all.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@PHIL - We do not normally have fully dedicated organic kitchen in our stores so in-house prepared dishes cannot be labeled as organic, even though some of the ingredients in the recipe are organic items. We normally will have a dedicated cutting board and knife for raw, organic items on the salad bar. This is why you will see raw items labeled as organic since they are prepared in a dedicated organic area and the prepared dishes could contain non-organic ingredients.

CyndiK says …

Very helpful. Thanks.

Lea SP says …

My understanding of canola oil refinement is that it's "versatile" and "neutral-flavored" because it is bleached and deodorized to remove the terrible smell it develops. I know you say the canola you use is expeller-pressed, but isn't it still bleached and deodorized which is not necessary with -heart-healthier saturated fats like refined expeller-pressed coconut oil? Also, isn't canola not a heat-stable oil because it is most polyunsaturated? My understanding is that higher percentage saturated fats correlate to higher heat stability. Thanks for addressing this topic.

Julia Z says …

If the oil used is not organic and the oil is expeller pressed what about chemicals used to deodorize the canola oil to neutralize it's flavor?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LEA & JULIA - While we don't have specific quality standards related to the deodorization process of oils, many of our canola oil products, including our 365 canola oil, are deodorized without the use of synthetic chemicals. I would recommend reaching out to the specific brands to know for sure how they are deodorizing their oils.

Jason says …

From an article authored by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD (http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/the-great-con-ola/): "...because canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures, it must be deodorized." If the canola oil is cold, expeller-pressed it likely has not be subjected to high temperatures and would likely not need to be deodorized. I have purchased non-deodorized canola oil from a local farmer and there are rancid flavors or rancid smells.

vivian says …

I noticed you carry a brand of pesto sauce called Le Grand- it is made entirely with non organic canola oil- how did this product wind up getting approval and onto the shelf? Thank you.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@VIVIAN - Not all of the canola oil we sell in our stores is non-GMO verified. As mentioned above, the canola oil we use in our in-house made products is verified non-GMO. This does not mean that every product sold in our stores will feature non-GMO canola oil. If you're looking for non-GMO canola options, make sure to look for organic products or those verified as non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project.

Gessy says …

I expect a level of scrutiny at Whole Foods that I don't expect at a typical grocery store; anyone who knows how canola oil is processed would never buy food products made with it- the fact is canola is derived from a GMO plant of the mustard family and hasn't been around long enough to know the long term side effects of consuming it; Whole Foods would be better off switching to grapeseed oil, which is tasteless, nutritious and has a high smoke point making it ideal for cooking; if Whole Foods insists on carrying products made with canola oil they should at least be required to use non GMO or cold pressed canola oil

stanley binder says …

I too have noticed that you use canola oil in so many baked goods, it's not that it's definitely bad for us as some report but that you don't give the customer a choice...why can't I buy some baked goods like mom used to make with BUTTER. Everyone seems to be praising coconut oil and you sell tons of it but don't bake with it yourselves??? it's as if wfm is several years behind or afraid of change...either way everything in the stores is delicious-- I just wish we had more choices of how items were made. thanks

Scott says …

So is this article all lies? Please respond.. http://www.naturalnews.com/042054_organic_canola_oil_oxymoron_rapeseed.html

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SCOTT - There are a variety of articles regarding canola oil. Canola itself was not created through genetic engineering. Canola oil is a variety of rapeseed that was bred through traditional plant breeding methods in the 1970s. Traditional plant breeding methods involve selecting desired traits followed by crossing these traits into existing varieties until the offspring exhibit the desired characteristics. But, while it is true that canola oil was not originally developed using genetic engineering methods, today some forms of canola are genetically engineered. In order to avoid genetically engineered canola oil, it is recommended to buy organic or non-GMO verified canola oil, which by definition would not be genetically modified.

Monica says …

Expeller pressed coconut oil is tasteless and has a high smoke point. For things that are baked, no oil is needed or just saturated fats for flavor. Even vegans like expeller pressed coconut oil though. For products containing mayo, check out the mayo recipe on the blog Mommypotamus. It's delicious!!! If these changes were made and somehow kombucha on tap was provided, I'd eat there all the time just to get a break from the kitchen. With a large family, breaks are nice. Overall we love Whole Foods, but we avoid the pre-prepared foods for now.

Peter says …

GMO or not, the verdict on canola oil is out. ALL of the best, most up to date nutritional science shows that vegetable oils like canola are both inflammatory and toxic, especially when cooked. The stuff is just not meant for human consumption. And this isn't some fringe opinion, this information is now ubiquitous and widely accepted by anyone who has any solid understanding of nutritional science and its interplay with human biology. The powers that be at WF need to educate themselves on the history vegetable oil use. As much as I love Whole Foods, I am endlessly dismayed by its continual use of canola oil. A company that touts itself as being at the forefront of health conscientiousness should know better.

Letitia says …

Peter is right! Gmo organic whatever omega 6 fats are very inflammatory and we all know it, except whole foods apparently. I haven't eaten at resteraunts or from whole foods prepared foods in years and although the convenience would be so nice my standards for my health are quite a bit higher than immune stimulating inflammatory oils. But I have faith whole foods will get with the program and live up to its standards of offering healthy (prepared) food by not only cooking their foods with healthy saturated fats like coconut(refined, for no coconut flavor) and Palm oil but also by serving fully organic options in their prepared section.

Trudence says …

You must use Canolo oil because it is cheap. Smoked chicken with canola oil not olive oil. Last thanksgiving I could not order my dinner because of your use of Canola oil in everything

Naima says …

I totally agree Whole Foods is not really addressing all of the issue with canola oil. I am very disappointed in this, seemingly, cheap trick and an no longer able to purchase any prepared foods. It doesn't fit very well with what Whole Foods claims to stand for. When I have inquired in individual stores, I have heard claims like, we use this because "it is the only oil GUARANTEED not to have any allergins." :-( I've gotten other responses but that was the best. I'm just disappointed...

Jack G says …

It would be absolutely great if WFM publishes a list of their oil-free dressings, baked goods and chips (if only!) and other products, for folks following the Esselstyn approach to heart disease prevention and reversal. "Health Starts Here" is a good start. Tx.

Jennifer Lo says …

The other night I stopped by WF for dinner with my bf and really wanted soup. I was shocked to see that all the soups in the prepared foods section were made with canola oil. Even if it's not GMO, why is it one of the top ingredients? Wouldn't WF want to make nutritious soup or use an oil that actually has flavor instead of a soup base with oldschool canola oil?? It just seemed so out of place and "un-whole foodsy." My bf thought I was overreacting but I felt like everyone serving themselves was being dupped into thinking they were getting a home-cooked healthy soup at their local whole foods.

Victor says …

Jennifer - I agree and I don't think it's an overreaction. I haven't been able to purchase much from the hot or cold food bars in years since it seems like everything, including the soup, has canola oil. You can occasionally find a veggie that uses olive oil but most of the veggies are also grilled or sauteed using canola oil. Why would WF not use olive oil in soups needing oil? At $7 for a cup of soup at a grocery store, I would expect some better ingredients.

Charles Molway says …

My conclusion after having read the article on canola oil, the customer comments and WFM responses is that I will continue to avoid any product that lists canola oil in its list of ingredients and that I am disappointed in WFM's position on the subject. Since I find rare the frozen prepared meal on WFM's shelves that do not include canola oil in the recipe, the consequence is that my visits to the store are monthly rather than weekly. My hope is that WFM re-evaluates its position on canola oil and opens a store within walking distance of my residence.

Bruce says …

Rachael, as a manufacturer of NonGMO Project verified Canola Oil can you provide me with the contact information for the buyer of canola oil at Whole Foods.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BRUCE - We are decentralized as a company so our buying is handled at the regional level. You can find more info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company-info/information-potential-vendors

Colin says …

FWIW... There aren't any chemicals used in the deodorizing process, other than perhaps a little citric acid added afterwards for stability. extraction uses hexane, and caustic refining uses NaOH & then phosphoric acid.

tony justman says …

I shop a lot at Whole Foods, so I've been very disappointed to see that so many of your prepared foods use canola oil. Setting aside the GMO and processing issues, I'm more concerned about the fact that polyunsaturated fats just are not very good for you. They raise triglyceride levels. They are easily oxidized in cooking and when consumed in that state, contribute to inflammation and general poor health. the evidence is mounting. e.g., http://authoritynutrition.com/are-vegetable-and-seed-oils-bad/ why not use olive oil? avocado oil? macadamia nuts?

Diana says …

Please remove canola oil and soy oil from your products. As a store promoting health and healthy products these are far from that. Why not use butter, coconut oil.....???

Taylor says …

Please address the issue of heating the polyunsaturated fatty acids contained in canola oil. Studies indicate that dietary ingestion of oxidized polyunsaturated fatty acid rich culinary oils is more harmful compared with those similarly treated oils rich in saturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02873539

Gina says …

Actually, canola oil is cheap. And it has nowhere near the nutritional value of olive oil or butter. Let's be real.

Beau says …

I was given this link by WF's twitter account after posting this tweet (http://bit.ly/1DSSex0) showing a picture of a "PALEO" labelled prepared food at WF's that had canola oil. It drives me nuts that they use canola in everything. There was scrambled egg whites one morning that had the following ingredient list (http://bit.ly/1FvTGEq): egg whites, olive oil, canola oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, milk, butter. Crazy, huh? A splash of canola oil just for the heck of it? Please @WholeFoods, drop the canola oil and start using olive, coconut, etc.

Dan Berman says …

I appreciate the great air system at Whole Foods. I am deeply saddened, though not surprised, re the lack of organic prepared hot foods...........and the nearly ubiquitous use of canola oil. I see the several comments pointing out how several articles say canola oil is inflammatory have gone unanswered by WF. I'm not surprised that WF takes profit over health.....and not surprised, but annoyed at how they want to tout what great public citizens they are, and concerned about out welfare. When I mention my displeasure with all the canola in prepared foods, usually the WF employee shrugs and gives me an "I know.........but what can I do about it?" look along with saying "I've heard that complaint from other people too.:

Jonathan Hann says …

Everyone is going back to basics. The days of having dozens of unknown unpronounceable ingredients and preservatives, without customers worrying about it are gone. If we shop at whole foods, then obviously we have made a conscientious decesion to eat healthier sespite the cost of healthy food. It is therefore disheartening to go to the baked foods section, and find ingredients like soy, and canola oil in a basic vanilla cake. Who bakes cake with soy, and canola oil? That is no longer cake that's junk food to be avoided!!! There is also never an alternative. It's either you buy the baked goods with these "mordern ingredients" that are the cause of the modern diseases which were almost unheard of in the past, or you go without baked goods from whole foods. I choose the latter. GMO's and hexane are not our only concern, WF. Your customers are smarter than that. Show us some respect, and stop trying to justify the use of bad ingredients. It makes you look uninformed.

Darla says …

We ordered your Christmas dinner last December. The green beans were swimming in oil, i found out later to be canola oil. I tried to unsuccessfully rince the oil off so that I could eat the green beans. I ate some of the beans and because of the oil, the flavor was horrible. Why would you not use the more healthful olive oil? I watch what I eat very closely since I am undergoing treatment for cancer. Canola oil is not on my list of healthy foods. In fact, I believe what you have written about canola oil is mostly untrue based on my own independent research. I will not purchase or eat anything with canola oil and am astonished that Wholefoods would support the use of canola oil or even sell the product in any of their stores.

Diane Culik MD says …

Organic plants can be contaminated by GMO plants. Just avoid canola and spend the pennies to get organic olive oil and label it as such. I need a safe place to send my patients for food. Also please label any of your processed foods that are all organic so that there is something I can carry out to eat.

Francisco says …

If it's true you only use non-GMO canola oil in your in-house prepared foods, why do some of your in-house prepared foods ingredient labels include "non-GMO canola oil", while other of your in-house prepared foods ingredient labels include "canola oil"? If the answer is that you're inconsistent or inaccurate in producing your ingredient labels, would you please put some attention on this matter and resolve it once and for all? Thank you!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@FRANCISCO - I would imagine this is signage that needs to be updated. If you let me know which location this was, I'd be happy to follow up with the store to make sure the signs are current!

Steve says …

We have seen some awesome reviews about Family Generation Foods Extra Virgin Canola Oil. They were recently published in the Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/articles/beyond-olive-5-cooking-oils-you-should-be-using-1434043375 They are based out of Echo, Oregon and are a 4th generation farm. Is this a product that Whole Foods carries or currently uses?

traudi says …

why did you not include "cold expeller pressed"? Is there no difference between "cold expelled..." and regularly "expelled."

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@STEVE - Our exact products will differ between stores. Check with your local store to find out if they carry this.

David says …

WF, I hope you're paying attention to what your customers are saying in these comments. You are playing with fire.

Jody says …

Why can't you use olive oil on your collard greens, cabbage and other veggies that are sold on the steam table? Your customers would be much happier!

Mary says …

After years of struggling with some health problems, I have discovered that I have a severe intolerance to canola oil. I have had reactions to Whole Foods prepared foods that contain canola oil and am really surprised that is the oil they use in EVERYTHING. I have been a frequent WF customer for years and used to really trust their ingredients but using exclusively canola oil is a cost consideration because it is a really unnatural oil developed as an industrial lubricant and there are a growing number of people that are realizing that canola oil is at the root of their health problems. I am really disappointed that I can no longer buy any prepared foods from WF and will be actively warning everyone of the health dangers of their foods.

Chester says …

The worst stomach ache ever comes from canola oil, it's deadly what is wrong with coconut oil? Use it instead of liquid death.

Don H. says …

You should listen to your customers. Canola oil goes through an unnatural process. I've experimented with it on and off throughout the years and have found that unlike other oils, it causes my skin to break out. Nothing else does that. My body detoxes it even if I have the smallest amount. Your customers are right. You should carry what they want to buy rather than telling them what to buy and then defending this poison product.

Nina says …

After years of skin problems, stomach problems and migraines, I found out I am intolerant to canola oil. If it has caused me so much pain, I am sure there are others. My feeling is that most people have a reaction to canola but don't realize it's the source. Canola oil is not natural. It's a non food that goes through a chemical process to be able to be consumed. Be honest and let it be known that you use canola oil because it's cheap and abundant. Obviously you can not please everyone but don't you think if you have to defend certain practices, something is not right? People, inform your selves- don't let spin doctors tell you what's "healthy"- cook at home!

Carl says …

I am assuming that WFM is using pro-inflammatory canola oil in their baked/prepared/cooked foods because CANOLA OIL IS CHEAP! Come on, Whole Foods folks. If you are in the know—which we customers rely on you to be—you KNOW that canola oil is too high in omega-6 fatty acids and contributes to inflammation in the body. WFM can use HEALTHFUL, flavor-free non-GMO coconut oil in prepared foods, at the hot bar, etc. Please understand: your customers expect a much higher level of scrutiny & integrity at WFM than one sees in other grocery stores. That's a big part of why we've shopped at WFM for so many years. As Peter commented on 9/23/14, “As much as I love Whole Foods, I am endlessly dismayed by its continual use of canola oil. A company that touts itself as being at the forefront of health conscientiousness should know better.”

Lily says …

Why does Whole Foods insist on putting canola oil in so many items in its hot and salad bar? For example a lot of the Mediterranean dishes offered have either canola oil or canola and olive oil. Mediterranean food is supposed to be prepared with olive oil! Stick to basic ingredients, there are too many items on the food bar with additional ingredients that do not belong and/or are not healthy! Enough with the canola oil!

ironhombre says …

Please provide an answer as to why all the store prepared foods use it? The information in your thread above is great but there are much healthier alternatives that you can use. After all, WFM is not GIANT or ACME, etc. We pay a premium to shop here. Stand behind your values and make the change.

livfreely says …

All of you complaining about canola oil need to chill, and do some more research. There is nothing wrong with canola oil that is non-GMO, and expeller pressed. It is quite healthy, and good for you. Thank you whole foods for using this healthy canola oil in your meals. I will continue to buy your non-GMO canola oil (I prefer your Solio brand), and will continue to enjoy cooking with this oil. As WF has mentioned in their introduction rapeseed/canola oil has been used FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS IN HUMAN CONSUMPTION.

Daniel says …

Since science changes so much, we have much better and realistic way to figure out what is going on. 1) Smell of Canola oil: the very smell of canola when heated, not matter how "tolerant" is repugnant. This translates to taste immediately. You see so many comments below that whole foods has ignored unfortunately to how a large percentage of people react to it. If canola was so "safe" and "natural" you wouldn't have such a high percentage of negative physical reactions 2) there is a reason "rapeseed" oil was not allowed by the FDA once. It was banned. Please address this? 3) canola oil is also used as an insecticide, very effectively. HINT: If it had such value, or taste, or flavor, the bugs would want it. Just like everything else bugs eat that is a natural "whole" food. I'm sorry, but I'm unable to believe the post above because with so many better tasting options, (and allergy conscious choices) it can only be canola's cheap cost that keeps such a product in the food line. At the very least, I wish whole foods could post when they use it. So many times fried items and even raw Mediterranean items do not include the oil they were cooked with in the whole foods label. When me stomach starts hurting an hour later, and never does at home, (we never use canola) the answer is all to clear. It is in 85% of their prepared food items. Science aside, with all the comments and public consensus on this oil...why are they using it?

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