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Jul 13, 2012 04:34 PM

Do restaurants use canola oil?

After years of gastric distress, I took a food allergy test whose report card informs me that (among other things) I absolutely need to avoid canola oil and brewer's yeast for the next six months. Hmmm.

Is canola oil what most restaurants use to cook nowadays? Does it matter whether the restaurant is:
- Indian
- Chinese
- Korean
- Thai
- In 'N Out
- Ethiopian?

Not sure how to handle this (news). Thanks.

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  1. You have to ask at each restaurant. Rapeseed (canola) oil is common but the better the restaurant the less likely they are to use it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      What would they use instead? I use peanut oil at home, but I can't imagine that's usual.

      1. re: fadista

        Rice bran oil is popular in better restaurants.

        Cottonseed, soy, safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, grapeseed, blends.

        Peanut oil used to be common in Chinese restaurants but I think it has gone out of fashion due to allergies.

        Hydrogenated shortening used to be standard in bad restaurants but it's banned in California. I'm not sure what they substituted.

        Olive oil has a low smoke point so it's not good for frying.

    2. There are many other oils that can be used. It really depends on the application and desired flavor. To list them all would serve no purpose.

      I would expect many of the restaurants in the cuisines you list to use canola oil. It is cheap and versatile.

      1. I've read that high end Chinese restaurants use peanut oil for stir frying, because of the high smoke point. Low end? Dunno.

        I would expect Mediterranean restaurants (French, Italian, Greek, etc.) to use olive oil. Why wouldn't they?

        1. You have to ask each and every time you visit a restaurant.

          As a former caterer and purchasing agent for a deli, restaurant, caterer and bakery I can tell you that many operators buy whatever vegetable oil is cheapest on any given day. If the salesman has a deal on 'vegetable oil' (Usually soybean) or Canola (Rapeseed-Canadian Low Acid) or some blend, that is what most restaurants will buy.

          Asian restaurants often buy peanut oil for the high temp properties, and upscale continental restaurants may use olive oil to saute or finish a dish while using cheap vegetable oil for most other uses.

          Some places specify what they use. For example the 5 Guys Hamburger chain only uses Peanut oil to fry potatoes and has displays of it in the restaurants. BUT, this is the exception, not the rule.

          Some places add oil to the fryolators as the level gets low and there may be a mixture of oils in use as the day goes on. Used oil is often filtered at the end of a shift and reused, so what started out soybean could now be a soybean/Canola mix.

          And of course, here in the USA Cottonseed oil is allowed to be labelled as vegetable oil, yukk.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bagelman01

            Thanks - that's super helpful. Although ... I hate the thought of becoming one of "those people."

            As a reference for future web-surfers here, I stumbled upon this site focused on the very same intolerance: (I didn't immediately understand the name - cute.)