Cooking oil is an essential resource for small businesses and establishments alike. Whether it be an independent restaurant or cafe, a friendly care home or a public hospital, there are an abundance of industries and sectors who rely on the constant, reliable supply of cooking oil as well as the collection of their waste cooking oil.
But as cooking oil thefts are on the rise in the UK due to the rising cost and extortionate value, it’s more important than ever before for those establishments and organisations to protect their cooking oil supply from thieves, but how long should you be doing that for? In this article, we’ll explain exactly how long you should be keeping your cooking oil, together with how you can protect it from criminals.
Does cooking oil expire?
Like with most foods, cooking oil will go bad at some point or another, but its lifespan will differ depending on the type of cooking oil it is, but we’ll touch on this later. Cooking oil will go rancid, thus making it taste and smell bad. The vitamins within it will be destroyed and, if left long enough, will end up creating toxic compounds.
Heat, light and oxygen are the main causes of cooking oil rancidity, hence why it can also go bad when mixed with water and other things. However, water or moisture contamination of any kind is highly-unlikely unless the container has been opened and/or not resealed correctly.
How can I store cooking oil for the long-term?
Do not open the bottle until needed
Once you have opened a bottle of cooking oil, make sure you use that one up first before opening another. Make sure that every container you have in your stockroom is left unopened until absolutely necessary.
They need to be air-tight in order to last as long as possible, otherwise you might find yourself having to responsibly dispose of excess cooking oil that could have been used had it not been opened prematurely, thus costing you money unnecessarily.
Avoid buying cooking oil stored in plastic bottles
Where this might not be possible for businesses who need copious amounts of the product, it is possible for domestic users of cooking oil. Despite the shortages, you’ll still be able to buy cooking oil that’s sold in opaque glass bottles. As a business owner, it’s not out of the question to buy cooking oil in glass bottles, it just depends on how big your budget happens to be.
Plastic bottles that store, often inexpensive, cooking oil aren’t completely airtight and, when mixed with oxygen, it will react with molecules in the oil, therefore causing it to go rancid quicker than it would have done had it not been exposed to oxygen.
As a general rule, you should look to use up an entire bottle of cooking oil in as little as six months. If you own a busy company or manage a kitchen where cooking oil needs to be plentiful, then you shouldn’t have any trouble getting down a bottle of cooking oil in as little as six months.
Plastic also isn’t as strong as glass. If the bottle gets too hot or has been overfilled, then the bottle itself could split and you’ll end up with cooking oil all over your storeroom floor.You won’t have to worry about this happening when purchasing cooking oil in glass bottles.
Store your cooking oil out of direct sunlight
As already said, heat can have a detrimental effect on your stored cooking oil, especially if you have no other choice but to buy it in plastic bottles. As such, you should, whether it be contained in glass or not, keep it away from sunlight at all times, keeping it as cool as possible.
Keep it somewhere dark, cool and away from any windows or doors. More expensive, high-quality brands of cooking oil will be contained within dark or opaque bottles for this very reason. Even if your cooking oil does come in such packaging, you should still store it appropriately to ensure it doesn’t go rancid sooner than expected.
Rotate your stock regularly
Generally, cooking oil lasts between one and two years, depending on the type of oil you go for. As such, you shouldn’t stockpile more than you can get through in that time. If your stockroom is particularly warm, then you’ll need to get down your inventory quicker than if it was stored somewhere cooler, for example.
If you buy new containers of cooking oil, then make sure you place them towards the back of your storeroom so that you don’t open brand new bottles when older ones are still sitting there waiting to be opened and used before they go bad. This is the same for most foods and, if you’re a restauranter or own a cafe, for example, then you’ll know the importance of stock rotation; it’s no different for your cooking oil.
How long does each type of cooking oil last for?
As expected, some types of cooking last longer than others and this is down to the fats they contain. Cooking oils that have more polyunsaturated fats will naturally contain more carbon-carbon double bonds, therefore meaning that those particular oil types will eventually expire or ‘go bad’. However, oils that contain more polyphenols will last far longer than those that don’t.
The following oils are likely to last, on average:
- Hydrogenated oils – 5 years
- Peanut oil – 3-4 years
- Olive oil – 3 years
- Palm oil – 2-3 years
- Safflower oil – 1-2 years
- Sunflower oil – 1-2 years
- Canola oil – 1-2 years
- Coconut oil – 1-2 years
- Soybean oil – 1 year
- Corn oil – 1 year
- Lard and fallow – 9 months
How to prevent being a victim of cooking oil theft
- Check oil levels regularly and keep a track of levels as you come and go from the workplace
- Install automatic movement sensors to ward off thieves
- Install lockable fencing and/or hoarding to keep your cooking oil supplies protected from view
- Have lockable, secure gates constructed
- Consider using an alarm system
- Have CCTV installed if it isn’t already
- Keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles and behaviour, then notify the police of your concerns in light of the rise in cooking oil thefts recently