Saturday, 31 March 2012

Palm oil as an ingredient-cheap,but unhealthy and unethical

Palm Oil as an ingredient -cheap, but unhealthy and unethical.

At first glance palm oil may seem like an acceptable ingredient.  After all it comes from a plant and its producers often label it as 'sustainable' and 'organic'. However nothing could be further from the truth.

On foods, it may be labelled as 'palm oil' or 'palm fat' or concealed under the general label of 'vegetable oil.' But this, however, will cease as the law is shortly changing in the UK so that it has to be clearly labelled as 'palm oil.'

In food, palm oil is often confused with coconut oil, which is an ethically produced, healthy ingredient. But palm oil  contains saturated fat and is therefore unhealthy.  It has been found not to be produced organically, despite producers' claims,  but has been found to have been sprayed with large amounts of chemicals, and it leads to ecocide in the countries that are the major producers.

Why is palm oil so destructive? It says it's sustainable?
The palm oil industry is massive and massively expanding. New plantations are grown on newly cleared rainforest and it is a major driver of deforestation, violence and death to Indigenous peoples and animals and more.It is mainly grown in Indonesia, Malaysia and Borneo, the only homes of the near exctinct orang utan. It is easy for  palm oil suppliers to say that their product is sustainable but these claims are unsubstantiated eg in the case of suppliers who say that they are accredited by the the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, or that their approval has been sanctioned by the RSPO. This body has been widely discredited-it is not an external professional body with teeth, far from it, it hasn't even prevented human rights abuses or destruction of virgin rainforest. For more information please Google: 'The Declaration of Greenwashing of Palm Oil by the RSPO' .This has been signed by 250 groups worldwide.

Palm oil in other products.
Palm oil is cheap and has crept into a wealth of products including washing products,shampoo, soap, makeup and household products. In these it is labelled under its chemical names. The implications to forest destruction are the same.

Ethical consumption.
As awareness is spreading about the destructiveness of palm oil production, consumers are looking more and more for ethical products that don't contain palm oil. When the new law comes in, by the end of 2012,in the UK, it will be much easier for them to see if palm oil is an ingredient and avoid purchasing these goods.
There will be an increasing demand for palm free food ,soap, makeup and washing  and other household products.
Some manufacturers have looked into the palm issue- by going to Indonesia where it was sourced and by listening to their consumers- and have taken it out of their goods. One company was horrified when they visited a palm plantation in Indonesia by the rainforest devastation and human suffering caused and acted accordingly halting their use of palm oil.

Going palm oil free makes sense-sense for ensuring a healthy, genuinely organic ethical product that more and more consumers will be requesting. Why wait?


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