According to the Australian Palmoilaction organisation at least 50 Orangutans die each week as a direct result of the palm oil industry . If the pace of rainforest deforestation keeps up, making way for palm oil plantations, there won’t be any ‘rangas left in 10-20 yrs.
Orangutans are our closest primate relative. We share 96% of our DNA with them. We can do our bit by avoiding products with palm oil – which could be up to 40% of the products in supermarkets and in our homes. I know it is ‘inconvenient’ and limits our ‘freedom’ but we have a choice, Orangutans’do not.
In 2008 Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) rejected an application for the compulsory labelling of Palm Oil, arguing that they have no legal capacity to hear the case.
In 2011 a campaign backed by Dr Jane Goodall passed through the senate unopposed but both Labour and Liberal parties have bowed to food industry lobbying and rejected consumer backed calls for mandatory palm oil labeling.
How to identify palm oil in a food product:
- Ice cream, chocolate, biscuits, crackers, chips, margarine, cooking oil are the main food products with added palm oil. More of them will have it than not as it is cheap, stable and readily available. The ‘vegetable oil’ in sultanas is often palm oil. It turns up in surprising places!
- Look for the type of oil in the ingredient list. If it states the source of fat eg. canola or sunflower – coast is clear. It it just says ‘vegetable oil’ keep reading.
- Palm oil contains 45% of its fat as saturated fat. If around half of the total fat is saturated, it probably contains palm oil. It could also be coconut oil but palm oil is used more extensively. For example if total fat per 100g is 15.2 and saturated fat is 7.3 it is suspect. This is mostly fool-proof except where only a percentage of the fat is palm oil.
- Contact the manufacturer and ask
Palm oil in cosmetics is labelled Elaeis guineensis. Other ingredients which may be palm oil based include sodium lauryl sulphate, cetyl alcohol, stearic acid, isopropyl and other palmitates, steareth-2, steareth-20 and fatty alcohol sulphatesl but these can also be sourced from other oils. Best to ring up the company of your favourite products and find out and let us know so we can contribute to the existing lists .
Not all palm oil comes fromIndonesiaandMalaysiaand there are sustainable sources although the monitoring of this is questionable.
KFC has switched to canola oil from palm oil in May this year and is streaks ahead of McDonald who will slowly move to sustainable palm oil by 2015, similar to Arnotts. But if KFC can do it why can’t they?
For a palm-oil free shopping list from Auckland Zoo
United Nations report:
I couldn’t open the free pdf so have sent an email to the distributer. You can purchase the report for $15.
Email petition to Tony Abbott who joined the government in blocking a palm oil labelling bill mid 2011 that passed through senate unopposed:
We also have a petition you can sign at COC. You can print your own off and take it to your office or school too. There is not much time to turn this situation around.