Petition to limit palm oil attracts more than 50,000 signatures

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

European health authorities have not recommended reducing palm oil use, says the European Palm Oil Alliance
European health authorities have not recommended reducing palm oil use, says the European Palm Oil Alliance
More than 50,000 people have signed an Italian petition to limit the use of palm oil in processed foods, organised by food news and campaigning organisation Il Fatto Alimentare.

The petition, published on Change.org​, says it opposes the use of palm oil on ethical, environmental and health grounds, and invites companies to reformulate using other non-hydrogenated vegetable oils or butter.

Il Fatto Alimentare calls for palm oil to be eliminated from school foods and hospital canteens, as well as from foods in vending machines in public buildings, and asks supermarkets to exclude palm oil from their own-brand products.

“We ask the agri-food industries to commit to reformulate products without the use of palm oil,”​ it said.

Palm oil has been associated with widespread deforestation in Southeast Asia and destruction of habitats, and it has also been criticised for its high saturated fat content. It is the world’s most widely used vegetable oil, and food manufacturers find it an attractive option because of its stability at high temperatures, long shelf life and low cost.

Responding to the petition, European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA) programme manager Margot Logman told FoodNavigator that the palm oil tree is the most efficient oil crop in terms of land use and, as long as the oil is certified as sustainable, it “presents huge advantages from a sustainability perspective”.

“It’s important to note that there are no recommendations from European health authorities not to use palm oil in food products and nor are there any laws to reduce palm oil use,”​ she said.

She added that many consumer concerns about palm oil tended to emerge after governments had proposed measures to restrict or tax palm oil use, sometimes with “little reference to the available factual information”.

“The palm oil debate is much related to governments raising proposals to manage either dietary or sustainability issues, and choosing palm oil to do so,” ​she said, referring to Belgian senate proposals and the French ‘Nutella tax’. “…The proposals that have come up were amended to remove the focus on single fats or oils, resulting in a more balanced look at fat intake as part of a whole diet.”

From December 13, palm oil will need to be identified across Europe in ingredient lists under the new Food Information for Consumers (FIC) regulation. Until now, manufacturers have had the option of listing it as ‘vegetable oil’.

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2 comments

Objections to palm oil

Posted by Satu Tolvanen,

The objections to tropical oil started long ago with in the US with soy producers who managed to turn the consumers to hydrogenated oils that later proved to be much more harmful to health than the saturated tropical oils. Now the debate should not be about the use of palm oil for food but for bio fuels that are the real reason for the deforestation and environmental harm. Food crops should not be grown for fuel, period, but aside from that, it's not the kind of oil as much as the amount consumed that harms your health.

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Just so that other oils can get a better price?

Posted by Paul Warren,

Do these signatories know that this campaign against Palm Oil got more to do with the competition going on with the other vegetable oils? And who produces them? Europeans and Americans!! With Palm Oil helping to dump down their prices, surely the producers of soya, corn, sunflower, peanut, rapeseed and other oils are not getting the prices they believe they should get. This battle has been going on for over 20 years now. From health to deforestation and orang utans, everything conceivable has been thrown at Palm Oil. Its come to a point where the hypocrisy and the deceit that this is is just not seen by these signatories.

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