Palm oil labelling is unclear, Choice

Choice has released a statement relating to unclear labelling of products containing palm oil.

The consumer watchdog says that ambiguous labelling techniques are not allowing consumers to make informed decisions at the checkout.

According to the statement, approximately 50 percent of packaged products from shampoo to chips and health food snacks all contain palm oil under the guise of vegetable oil. Under current regulations, palm oil is allowed to be labelled as vegetable oil.

Palm oil is the most consumed edible oil in the world accounting for 33 percent of total production in 2009. Over 130,000 tonnes of the controversial ingredient is imported into Australia annually and used in popular grocery items.

“Unfortunately only 14 percent of palm oil produced is sustainable, and deforestation is resulting in catastrophic environmental damage. Additionally, it has a saturated fat content of 51 percent, which fares poorly in comparison to other vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower and olive,” said Choice spokesperson Tom Godfrey.

“CHOICE believes that in order for consumers to make an informed decision to avoid palm oil should they wish to, access to accurate labelling is vital. For a product with such high levels of saturated fat, we think it is important to clearly and specifically label, rather than leave it up to the consumer to decipher fat levels on the nutritional panel.”

Unlike Australia, The Food Information Regulation published by the EU will require all types of vegetable oil to be labelled by 2014, and the US and Canada already require palm oil to be labelled.

Leading brands including Arnott’s, Coca Cola (SPC Ardmona), Goodman Fielder and Nestle all use palm oil and label it as vegetable oil.


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