Transparent labelling to inform consumers about palm oil

Posted on: March 30, 2015

In his reply to a Parliamentary Question, the Belgian Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Economy and Foreign Trade, Kris Peeters, mentioned the new EU law on food information to consumers (otherwise known as FIC) as an alternative to the so called ‘no-palm oil labels’ to inform consumers about the ingredients which are used in a product. “Under the former regulation all products containing natural oils could just display natural oils in the list of ingredients. Now this needs to be followed with the exact kind of natural oils that are used in the product. In this way the consumer can see for himself if palm oil has been used in the production process of the product”, he stated.

Sustainable palm oil
From a sustainability perspective, moving out of palm oil makes no sense at all,” says Adam Harrison, WWF’s palm oil lead in the Guardian. “Palm oil is a very productive crop, and switching to another oil like oil-seed rape or soy, just means that more land is used globally to produce vegetable oil. Palm oil is something like nine times more productive per hectare than the next most productive oil. So we have a very clear message as WWF to companies: if it’s sustainability you’re worried about, buy RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil.”

In food products palm oil is often used in combination with other fats and oils which together determine the fatty acid composition of the product and eventually the nutritional aspects. There is no scientific indication that consumption of palm oil in a balanced diet is related to any specific health concern. The relation between nutrients and health must be considered within the whole diet and not in terms of single food items.

According to the Malaysian government no-palm-oil labelling isn’t needed, nor desired. Since certified palm oil is widely available and consumption of palm oil in a balanced diet is of no specific health concern, the Malaysian minister of Plantations Datuk Embas qualifies the negative labelling as misleading, misinforming European consumers, and unfairly denigrating palm oil producers.