Action: Palm oil

Palm-oil is in 1 in 10 products on British shelves. The demand for it in the West is increasing and already much of South East Asia is deforested. This effects many species of plants and animals that lived in pristine rainforest which was clear-felled to grow palm oil. In West Africa land is being bought up to grow palm oil. This is further increasing the loss of species and habitats including the Critically Endangered Roloway monkey (pictured right). If we want to stop this wholesale destruction of the rainforest we have to reduce the demand for this incredibly cheap oil.

Palm oil in products is currently often not listed as such, it is called vegetable oil or fat in food and sodium laurel sulphate in cosmetics. For a full list of the euphemisms used for palm oil see below. This is due to change soon since EU regulations state that companies have to label the source of 'vegetable oil' in food by 2015. This is as a result of a campaign run by the Sumatran Orangutan Society among others to the European Parliament.

Palm oil is used in many different kinds of products from chocolate to shampoo, cakes to toothpaste. Here is a list of the products that can be bought knowing they are palm-oil free or from sustainable palm-oil plantations. As a consumer, the more informed you are the more you are able to make a positive difference. By avoiding products that have palm oil in you can encourage companies to have ethically sourced palm oil or to use an alternative such as sunflower oil or rape seed oil.

There is a group of companies that have signed up to the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) which has made a commitment to using sustainably sourced palm oil. Some members take this commitment more seriously than others. Some simply use it as a form of 'greenwashing' to make it sound like they are being green without actually doing anything.

The issues of palm oil consumption in the West are tackled in Save Your Last Rolo-way.

Take Action

Make a commitment to have fewer products that contain palm oil. You can switch brands, cut out certain things all together (for example I am yet to find a palm oil-free Curiously Cinnamon equivalent) or find alternative products. Certain brands are wise to avoide since they often use palm oil such as Nestle and Unilever (products like Dove and Nivea). We try to give you the tools to help. Follow Joy's personal blog or the MASC one for palm oil-free shopping tips. Do what you can but do not feel bad if you buy something and you didn't see 'vegetable oil' until you got home or if you really need raisens and you can't find any without palm oil on them. Every little decision to buy something that is palm oil-free is one that wasn't being made before and is making a positive difference to the rainforest.

Many things that contain palm oil, like cakes and biscuits are difficult to find alternatives for but you can make them yourself at home completely palm oil free!

MASC is trying to construct a British palm oil-free Wiki. You can use it to check if a product is palm oil-free or not, get a list of palm oil-free products or to add products to the list if they are palm oil-free. It is not a complete list but it is being expanded all the time so come back to check again soon. A simple first step that should help you along is by picking a supermarket that has made a pledge to use only RSPO certified palm oil like The Co-operative Food.

In food

cocoa butter equivalent (CBE)
cocoa butter substitute (CBS)
palm olein
palm stearine
vegetable oil


In other products

arachamide mea
capric triglyceride
caprylic triglyceride
caprylyl glycol
cetyl alcohol
elaeis guineensis
emulsifier (some)
epoxidized palm oil (uv cured coatings)
ethylene glycol monostearate
ethylhexyl palmitate
fatty alcohol sulphates
glyceryl stearate
isopropyl palmitate
mono-glycerides of fatty acids
octyl palmitate
oleyl betaine
palm kernel oil
palm oil
palm olein
palm stearine
palmitoyl oxostearamide
palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3
peg-100 stearate
peptide complex
saponified elaeis guineensis
sodium laurel
sodium laureth sulfate
sodium laureth sulphate
sodium lauroyl lactylate
sodium lauroyl lactylate
sodium lauryl
sodium lauryl sulfate
sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
sodium lauryl sulphate
sodium palm kernelate
sodium palmate
sodium stearate
stearamidopropyl dimethylamine
stearic acid


Thanks to Free me from palm oil blog for this list


site developed by Mark Iliff and Joy Iliff, Talespinner