Mustard Oil, Outlawed? Dangerous? Conspiracy?

I've used mustard oil to toast/fry some sesame seeds to use in an Asian BBQ sauce because I wanted that sesame taste and a twist. It worked great! That was off the coast of West Africa on a ship were I found odd food supplies in the nooks and crannies of different pantry areas.

I found about 4 or 5 bottles of Mustard Oil (were feeding about 500 people daily so that's not enough to do anything big) and I thought 'hmmm, I never remember working with this or what It tastes like...' so I did a little research on it.

The following is information from Wikipedia (I freely edited so as not to bore you), pay attention to the 3 and 4th paragraphs:

This oil has a strong smell, a little like strong cabbage, a hot nutty taste, and is much used for cooking in India and Bangladesh...

Mustard oil is composed mostly of the fatty acids oleic acid, linoleic acid and erucic acid. At 5%, mustard seed oil has the lowest saturated fat content of the edible oils.

In India, mustard oil is generally heated almost to smoking before it is used for cooking; this may be an attempt to reduce the content of noxious substances such as erucic acid, and does reduce the strong smell and taste. , Mustard oil is not considered suitable for human consumption in the United States, Canada and the European Union due to the high content of erucic acid, which is considered noxious, although mustard oil with low erucic acid content is available. To get around the restriction in Western countries, the oil is often sold "for external use only" in stores catering to Indian immigrants, as in North India, mustard oil is also used for rub-downs and massages (see ayurveda), thought to improve blood circulation, muscular development and skin texture; the oil is also antibacterial.

In India, the restrictions on mustard oil are viewed as an attempt by foreign multi-national corporations to replace mustard oil with canola oil, a variety of rapeseed with a low erucic acid content, but often from a genetically modified canola. The East and North Indians have been using it for ages and deny that there is enough evidence for the toxicity of erucic acid, instead maintaining that mustard oil is beneficial to human health because of its low saturated fat content, ideal ratio of omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids (15g of omega 3 fats per 100g serving), content of antioxidants and vitamin E, as well as being cold-pressed (extracted at 45-50 degrees Celsius).

In northern Italy, it is used in the fruit condiment called mostarda.

If that wasn't enough for you, then check out the conspiracy! ~

FindArticles - The Mustard Oil Conspiracy
Ecologist, The, June, 2001, by Vandana Shiva

And of course if Wikipedia is not a valid enough source for you, here is the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Import Alert from 1999 a quote from that report:
Expressed mustard oil is not permitted for use as a vegetable oil. It may contain 20 to 40% erucic acid, which has been shown to cause nutritional deficiencies and cardiac lesions in test animals.

Here is another great post I found on Mustard Oil after seeing if it was available in the states. I did find out you can buy it for massage oil! Learn something new everyday, huh?

*note: The Ghurkas on board were very appreciative when I gave them a bottle when they found out I had some. They were from Nepal and cooked some wickedly good and spicy food!

This post was part of the 'Lost In Transfer' series. Originally posted: 5/14/08 JWP3STS2FS38