Monday, 15 December 2014

New EU legislation promotes responsible palm oil production

Conservationists are celebrating new Europe-wide legislation that requires companies to list palm oil as an ingredient on food packaging from 13 December, rather than hiding behind the generic term vegetable oil. 

The production of palm oil, a vegetable oil found in up to half of all packaged food on supermarket shelves, is a major driver of deforestation in countries across south-east Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Previously hidden behind the generic term ‘vegetable oil’ on ingredients lists, most consumers were unaware of the link between their weekly shop and the expansion of plantations into lowland rainforests, threatening many iconic species, including orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos in SE Asia and, as plantations expand in Africa, gorillas, chimpanzees and African forest elephants.

In 2011, the EU adopted a new law which requires the labelling of specific vegetable oils, including palm oil, on food products. Companies were given three years to comply, and the new legislation comes into force on 13th December 2014. 

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