Iceland Advert: Which Products Contain Palm Oil And How Can You Avoid It?

12 November 2018, 15:23 | Updated: 28 October 2019, 15:53

You won’t see Iceland’s Christmas advert highlighting the impact of palm oil production on TV this year because it’s been banned for being “too political”.

The supermarket teamed up with Greenpeace to create an animation which tells the story of an orangutan whose home had been destroyed by palm oil producers.

But, Clearcast, who decides which adverts are and aren’t allowed in the UK, ruled it “contravenes the prohibition on political advertising”. The decision sparked hundreds of thousands of people to watch and share the advert on social media.

Earlier this year Iceland became the first major supermarket in the UK to ban products using palm oil because of environmental issues.

Iceland's Christmas TV advert won't be shown this year
Iceland's Christmas TV advert won't be shown this year. Picture: Iceland

What is palm oil?

Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil which is made from the fruits of trees known as African oil palms.

Such trees are mainly grown in plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The oil is naturally high in saturated vegetable fats.

It can be found in half of all supermarket products, including processed food, toiletries and cosmetics.

Palm oil comes from the fruits of trees known as African oil palms
Palm oil comes from the fruits of trees known as African oil palms. Picture: PA

Why is palm oil bad for the environment?

Palm oil production is believed to have been responsible for around 8 per cent of the world’s deforestation between 1990 and 2008.

It’s down to a huge surge in demand for the product because of its apparent health benefits and lower production costs.

Forests are usually burned to clear areas where people can grow oil palms - and sometimes this happens illegally.

It’s seen large areas of forest in south-east Asia and Africa destroyed, with 100,000 orangutans lost between 1999 and 2015.

Other animals like rhinos and tigers as well as indigenous people have also had their homes destroyed because of palm oil production.

Palm oil production is responsible mass deforestation
Palm oil production is responsible mass deforestation. Picture: PA

Which products contain palm oil?

Palm oil can be found in half of all packaged supermarket products. This includes:

- Lipstick

- Pizza dough

- Instant noodles

- Shampoo

- Ice cream

- Detergent

- Margarine

- Chocolate

- Cookies

- Biodiesel

- Soap

- Packaged bread

About 100,000 orangutans have been killed between 1999 and 2015
About 100,000 orangutans have been killed between 1999 and 2015. Picture: PA

How can you tell whether a product contains palm oil?

Some products that use palm oil aren’t always clearly labelled. It can appear under a number of names, including:

INGREDIENTS: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol

CONTAINS: Palm oil

Many companies hide palm oil in the ingredients by writing vegetable oil, but more often than not, it is a mixture of oils that contains palm.

Buying Products With Sustainable Palm Oil

The RSPO provide companies with a symbol if the palm oil they use is from sustainable sources.

To be stamped with the RSPO Trademark, they have to prove that no forests or areas that contain significant concentrations of endangered species or fragile ecosystems can be cleared.

The sustainable palm oil symbol
The sustainable palm oil symbol. Picture: RSPO

Look out for this mark on all the products above.