Monday 14 March 2011
The European Parliament is currently reviewing a new directive on the 'provision of food information to consumers' which seeks to make it compulsory for companies using palm oil to label it clearly on their packaging. At present, many companies choose to label palm oil as non-specific 'vegetable oil'.
Palm oil is a popular food ingredient due to its pleasant taste, colour and smell and is increasingly favoured by food manufacturers as it is cheap to produce and is now used in everything from chocolate and biscuits to ready meals.
However, our love for palm oil comes at a price and the clearing of land for oil palm plantations is devastating the natural habitats of both people and animals in the hot equatorial countries where palm oil is sourced. As a result some animals, such as the orangutan, Asian elephant, rhino and tiger are now critically endangered.
Living in harmony with our food, right down to the oil used in our chocolate and biscuits is so important and the increasing damage caused by the palm oil industry is a stark reminder of what can happen when the production of a single ingredient is overlooked.
You can however make a difference today if you live in the European Union by asking your MEP to ensure that the directive under consideration includes the clear labelling of palm oil on food packaging. This is not in an attempt to boycott an industry as despite its many problems, the palm oil industry in Indonesia and Malaysia alone provides much needed employment for over 4.5 million people. The provision of food information to consumers is instead about having all the information so we as consumers can make more informed decisions about the foods we eat, where they come from and how their ingredients are sourced.
TAKE ACTION: If you want to see clearer labelling of palm oil on your foods then visit the Clear Labels, Not Forests Campaign here, where you can send an automated request to your MEP
You can find out more about Palm Oil Deforestation by reading the WrinklyPepper Glowb. article here.