Sixty-eight percent of Kiwis think palm oil labelling should be mandatory, our latest consumer issues survey has found.
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Favoured for its smooth texture, palm oil is used in a huge range of packaged foods, from dairy spreads to snack bars. Much of it comes from plantations in Indonesia, where its production has been responsible for deforestation and threatening the survival of endangered orangutans.
But you can’t always tell whether palm oil is in a product. Food labelling rules let manufacturers list palm oil under the catch-all “vegetable oil”.
We’ve been calling for that to change. Many consumers want to avoid palm oil for environmental or health reasons (palm oil is high in saturated fat). An independent review of food labelling laws in 2011 also recommended oils added to foods be disclosed on product labels.
But seven years later, the issue is still being thrashed out. Last month, we made a submission to the Food Regulation Standing Committee – a joint Australia and New Zealand body that provides advice to ministers – reiterating our view labelling rules need to change.
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Survey results are based on a nationally representative sample of 1022 New Zealanders, aged 18 years or older.
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