Four New Zealand zoos have added their support to calls for mandatory palm oil labelling.
Auckland Zoo, Hamilton Zoo, Wellington Zoo and Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch are asking consumers to back the “Ask for Choice” campaign by writing to Minister of Food Safety Jo Goodhew ahead of a November meeting of New Zealand and Australian food ministers. Palm oil labelling will be on the agenda.
Favoured for its smooth texture, palm oil is estimated to be used in 50 percent of food products. Much of the oil comes from plantations in Indonesia where forest clearance has caused habitat loss for the orang-utan and other endangered species. Deforestation continues to threaten these species, the zoos say.
Existing labelling rules don’t require manufacturers to disclose palm oil on product labels. It’s typically listed as “vegetable oil”. An independent review of food labelling laws in 2011 recommended oils added to foods be disclosed on product labels. It’s among the last of the review’s recommendations to be progressed.
The zoos are inviting people to visit their community action stations by November and send a postcard to Minister Goodhew asking her to support palm oil labelling. Messages can also be sent to the minister from the Unmask Palm Oil website.