Palm Oil Banned by Major UK Supermarket

11 April, 2018, 12:25 | Author: Terri Saunders
  • Oil palm fruits with cooking oil

Iceland supermarkets has become the first British supermarket chain to stop using palm oil in its own-brand products.

Growing demand for palm oil has helped fuel widespread deforestation in Southeast Asia, prompting industry efforts to promote "sustainable" palm oil which is not environmentally damaging - however questions have been raised over how legit it really is.

Iceland pledged to no longer use palm oil in any of its own brand food by the end of 2018, meaning 130 products will have been reformulated by the end of the year.

Palm oil is now found in 50% of all supermarket products, from bread to biscuits and breakfast cereal to soap.

"Until Iceland can guarantee palm oil is not causing rainforest destruction, we are simply saying "no to palm oil"," Iceland Managing Director Richard Walker said in a statement.

Last year, the Bank of England considered the use of palm oil in its future banknote production, following complaints over the use of animal-derived tallow in its polymer notes. Not only is the environment suffering - all those forest fires are releasing enormous amounts of greenhouse gases - the orangutan population is suffering from the destruction of their natural habitat and orangutans are dying off.

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"Certified sustainable palm oil does not now limit deforestation and it does not now limit the growth of palm oil plantations", he said.

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil extracted from the fruit of oil palm trees. It highlights that a more regulatory approach may be needed, like due diligence regulations requiring importers to avoid palm oil produced through deforestation.

The palm oil industry has responded by forming the Roundtable on Responsible Palm Oil (RSPO) in 2004, which is a not-for-profit organization that has partnered with various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

While other United Kingdom supermarket chains, including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Waitrose, have pledged to only source sustainable palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in their own brand products, Iceland has gone one step further by totally removing it.

However, once they were told about effects on the environment, 85% said they did not think it should be used in food products. According to the European Palm Oil Alliance, we went from globally consuming 14.6 million tonnes of the stuff in 1995 to 61.1 million tonnes by 2015.

But there's also another side to that story: as consumers get more and more aware of environmental issues, campaigns are calling for them to boycott companies with a bad environmental record.

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