No articles found to show on this page.
Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil that is good for you…But studies are showing that the Palm oil industry is linked to major issues. Buzz 60’s Chandra Lanier has the story.
The British food retailer Iceland said it plans to cut the use of palm oil in its own brand label foods by the end of 2018.
The UK supermarket is taking the action in an attempt to help stop the destruction of tropical rainforests in southeast Asia and the threat to endangered species that the growing demand for palm oil is contributing to.
But what exactly is palm oil? Why is it causing such concern, and should you avoid it in food?
Here’s what you need to know:
What is palm oil
Palm oil is a natural vegetable oil that is extracted from the fruit of the oil palm tree. It is an inexpensive and mass-produced oil that is known for its versatility.
Palm oil is not widely used as a cooking oil in the U.S. but it is widely used in food processing. It is found in many supermarket products including bread, pastries, cereal, peanut butter, chocolate and margarine. It is also used in personal products like shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning products and biodiesel.
Is it a healthy oil?
Palm oil falls somewhere in the middle in terms of being a “good” or “bad” fat.
It contains no trans fat, which many consider to be the unhealthiest fat in terms of heart disease because it increases the level of harmful LDL cholesterol and decreases the level of beneficial HDL cholesterol.
But palm oil does contain about 50% saturated fat which can also boost bad LDL cholesterol. However, it is lower in saturated fats than butter and other plant-based oils like coconut oil and palm kernel oil. Some studies claim palm oil has other health benefits.
Why is it controversial?
Global demand and production of palm oil is growing dramatically.
Large portions of tropical forests and carbon-rich peatlands are being cleared in southeast Asia, Africa and Latin American to make way for palm oil plantations.
This increased deforestation is adding to global warming carbon emissions and shrinks natural habitats for a host of endangered wildlife species, including the orangutan.
What the palm oil industry says
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.
The World Wildlife Fund, which helped form the RSPO, says on its website that palm oil “can be produced in a responsible manner that respects the environment and the communities where it is commonly grown.”
The RSPO has developed a certification standard for sustainable palm oil production and has touted progress it has made.
Why did supermarket chain Iceland decide to stop using it?
Critics say the guidelines have had minimal impact on the levels of global deforestation and prompted the move by Iceland Foods to stop using palm oil in all its own-brand products.
“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. “We don’t believe there is such a thing as ‘sustainable’ palm oil available to retailers, so we are giving consumers a choice about what they buy.”
More: Palm oil, still causing controversy
More: Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy.
More: Coconut oil is out. These are the oils you should be using, experts say