A coalition of conservation organisations has launched a campaign to call for mandatory labelling of palm oil on food packaging in Europe.
Rapid expansion of the palm oil industry is having disastrous consequences for critically endangered species including the orangutan, Asian elephant, rhino and tiger. If introduced, mandatory labelling of palm oil on food packaging will ultimately lead to better forest protection in Southeast Asia and Africa.
Palm oil is a hidden ingredient found in up to half of packaged food products across Europe, including chocolate, biscuits, cereals, margarine, soup, crisps and ice cream. Usually listed simply as 'vegetable oil', consumers are currently unable to make informed decisions about the products they purchase not only on health grounds (due to its high saturated fat content) but also based on the palm oil industry's well-documented negative environmental and social impacts.
Catherine Bearder MEP, a member of the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade, said:
"Consumers must be given the choice of whether to buy products with palm oil or to avoid them. This can only be done with mandatory labelling across Europe."
"Palm oil is a hidden ingredient found in up to half of packaged food products across Europe. UK consumers may have moral objections to palm oil plantations and, without realising, they are funding it through the food they buy."
"I am not calling for a total boycott of palm oil, only for the demand that there is in Europe for knowledge about when sustainable palm oil is used in food and to encourage the palm industry to change."
A new directive on the Provision of food information to consumers, also known as the Sommer Report, is currently under review in the European Parliament.Nessa Childers MEP tabled an amendment to the directive calling for mandatory labelling of palm oil on food packaging in Europe.
If the amendment is passed, companies will have up to three years to comply with the new legislation - ample time to source certified sustainable palm oil.