Palm Oil Hides in Your Daily-Use Products. Where and How To Spot It?
Palm oil is the most consumed vegetable oil on the planet. It is in more than half of the products you can find in the supermarket. The high demand and production of palm oil has affected our planet in more ways than you can imagine.
Palm oil is an ingredient of a big number of products we use daily, but most of us are unable to recognize the palm fruit on a tree and the oil in our food, cleaning and personal care products.
To add to that, some products are not labelled to include palm oil but it is listed as palmitate, or vegetable oil, among other names. (Refer to the full list at the end)
Companies like Nestlé, Kellogg, Mars, PepsiCo and Hershey are among the companies that use palm oil in their food products.
The labelling of food products with palm oil differs between countries. In Europe, and as of December 2014, all food items sold in the European union must list palm oil in their ingredients. Similarly, in the United States, it is a requirement in labelling, even if palm oil is blended with other oils. In India however, the laws don’t require that pre-packaged foods list palm oil as an ingredient.
What are the products that DO contain palm oil?
Palm oil is added to lipstick because it helps holding the colour together and tolerates high temperatures.
2- Instant Noodles
Palm oil is up to 20% of the weight of a pack of instant noodles. It is used to pre-cook the noodles so that all you have to do is add the water.
Palm oil helps create a smooth and shiny appearance in some chocolate and keeps it from melting.
Palm oil is now used to make bread because it is solid at room temperature, easy to bake with and inexpensive.
Palm oil is added to vitamins to enhance texture and structure.
6- Pet Foods
Palm oil is also used in pet foods because of its cheap price.
7- Frozen Meals
Palm oil is added to frozen meals to enhance the texture.
Palm oil is used in margarine because it is solid at room temperature and is free of trans fats.
And the list goes on!
With the different naming and the labelling laws, they have made it much harder for ethical consumers to spot palm oil in their products and boycott the brands that are using it.
A small tip: If you are not sure of what you are buying, check the saturated fat content. If it is more than 50% in a product, then it most probably contains palm oil.
What can you do to stop or limit the use of products with palm oil?
Your first choice is to completely stop using brands and products with palm oil.
If this proves to be quite hard, and we know it can be, an alternative is to look for products stamped with a certification for using sustainable palm oil. To receive the stamp, no primary forests or areas that contain a significant number of endangered species or fragile ecosystems can be cleared and workers should receive fair treatment according to local and international labour rights standards.
The second option is, without any doubt, easier and less time consuming. But it is important to keep in mind the impact of palm oil production.
Consumers need to be more aware of where their money is going and stop using brands that are being destructive to our planet and threatening the existence of a number of species.
It is time to start reading labels, vote with our money and make educated, conscious and ethical decisions.
Other names for Palm Oil:
Palm Kernel Oil
Palm Fruit Oil
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Palm Kernelate
Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate
Hyrated Palm Glycerides