End product news & views (update 3a): A junk food free world? Italy campaign against palm oil in food products.

22 December: A junk food free world? Italy campaign against palm oil in food products.

Hold the Cookies, Save the Climate - Everyone knows meat is bad for the environment. But so is an ingredient commonly found in junk food. By Ruth DeFries; Imagine if eating packaged cookies and crackers were as socially unacceptable as smoking a cigarette. People would sneak to the balcony to tear open packages of Oreos. Travelers would slink into designated rooms to scarf down candy bars. “No junk food” signs would adorn the halls of public buildings. Waistlines, nutrition, and health care costs would all by improved by a junk food–free world. So would the climate, the rain forests, and the dwindling populations of wild orangutans in Southeast Asia...... The protests against palm oil have raised awareness about the damage that may be wrought by the world’s voracious appetite for cheap fat. They also bring up many thorny questions about the right path to a more equitable world, that has economic opportunities for all, and won’t destroy the planet in the process. Do the environmental costs of palm oil from Southeast Asia outweigh the damage from industrial farming of soybeans in the prairies of the Midwest? Should those countries with remaining stocks of rich, lush rain forests be obliged to forgo the benefits of developing their agriculture? With the push toward certification of sustainably produced palm oil, how can the millions of poor oil palm farmers afford to go through the expensive process to get certified? These knotty questions have no obvious answers. But one fact is clear. Whether it’s squeezed from soybeans or from the fruits of palm trees, oil in processed food is a losing proposition.... proposition

A Comedian vs 14,000 Italian Jobs & 4 Million Small Farmers b IPPA, 15 December 2014
The latest anti-palm oil campaign (and anti-poor people) campaign to emerge from Fortress Europe has come from Beppe Grillo and his Movimento 5 Stelle, also known as M5S, an Italian political party (party in the literal sense, not political sense). M5S is calling for the outright banning of palm oil from food products in Italy.... People’s livelihoods are at stake....

15 December: ‘Free-from’ campaigns are illegal or deceptive and also unnecessary as of 13 December 2014

In Trade Perspectives by FratiniVergano - European Lawyers, Issue No. 23 of 12 December 2014 on Mandatory declaration of specific vegetable oils in food as of 13 December 2014: ..... By making it compulsory that the oil origin be specified (so that a consumer can make an informed choice in the selection of food products), a mere look at the list of ingredients will tell consumers whether a product contains a specific vegetable oil or not. ‘Free-from’ campaigns directly on the products packaging should, therefore, be seen not only as illegal or deceptive (as argued above), but also unnecessary as of 13 December 2014, since any consumer will be able to tell what vegetable oil is present or not in any food product. There will be no need to use these dubious ‘free-from’ campaigns in order to ‘help’ consumers make informed choices. Food producers remain entitled to make positive claims about the presence of specific products on in their products, if they believe that such label has marketing value and will be appealing to consumers, but negative labels must be better regulated and not allowed, unless they are permitted nutrition claims under the NHCR.... The growing use of these damaging negative labels in countries like France and Belgium must be brought to an end.  Authorities and commercial operators need to closely scrutinise the market and challenge these anti-competitive practices, when they contravene EU and Member States’ laws. The expectation is that EU authorities and EU Member States, while they impose costly new rules on producers, also ensure that consumers are not misled by astute marketing techniques that have no informative agenda, but simply aim at denigrating certain vegetable oils in order to promote others or to convince consumers that what is ‘free’ from a certain oil is a better product....

12 December 2014 evening: EU labelling campaign wanted to encourage sustainability, but a poll of Guardian readers points to many wanting to avoid palm oil?

EU labelling changes force industry action on palm oil, a new law is predicted to benefit the sustainable palm oil industry, but the question is whether consumers will care; From Saturday, 500 million consumers in Europe will become aware that palm oil is in their food. The EU law on food information to consumers (otherwise known as FIC) means that food stuffs can no longer get away with hiding ingredients under generic titles. Now ingredients will have to be exactly what it says on the tin, and sustainable palm oil could be a major beneficiary.... The palm oil debate is funded by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. All content is editorially independent except for pieces labelled advertisement feature. Find out more here.

Will new EU food labelling rules change your purchasing decisions on palm oil?
Poll: will seeing palm oil in a product's ingredients list change your decision to buy it?
by Jenny Purt, Friday 12 December 2014 12.41 GMT; comment: Michelle Desilets 12 December 2014 1:03pm: The motivation for the campaign to clearly label the kind of oil used in products had a great deal to do with encouraging manufacturers to ensure that the palm oil they use is sustainably sourced. Perhaps the poll could have been improved with an option of something along the lines of "I will seek products that use palm oil and are certified sustainable."

source: Guardian poll, 12 Dec 2014, 11pm Singapore time; but number of respondents not indicated

12 December 2014: health & sustainability link, reformulate petition, Iran reduces palm oil, "palm oil free" illegal?

Palm oil: Health and sustainability are linked in consumers' minds by  - ‎Dec 4, 2014‎; "Palm oil is subject to several consumer concerns - its sustainability and health impacts in particular - but these need to be addressed together rather than separately, according to the European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA)...."

Petition to limit palm oil attracts more than 50000 signatures;  - ‎Dec 2, 2014‎  The petition, published on , says it opposes the use of palm oil on ethical, environmental and health grounds, and invites companies to reformulate using other non-hydrogenated vegetable oils or butter.

Iran decreases palm oil imports due to health concerns by  - ‎Dec 9, 2014‎; "Iran has decreased the importation of palm oil due to health concerns, ISNA news agency reported on Dec. 9. The country imported 7.415 million metric tons of palm oil in the first eight months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21-November 21 ..."

'Palm oil free' products could face legal challenge, say lawyers by  - ‎Dec 3, 2014‎ 
“However, in the absence of evidence that a specific oil represents a risk to consumer health, inclusion of “no palm oil” claim front of label unjustly singles palm oil out and places emphasis on the absence of palm oil in the product in a manner that ..."

Nash: Belgium's label against palm oil illegal by Yahoo Malaysia News  - ‎Dec 3, 2014‎ 
“We acknowledge this FIC regulation, but we reject the 'No Palm Oil' defamatory connotation in front-of-pack labels,” said Zulkifli..."

10 December: EU FIC regulation boost sustainability but not mass reformulation

"Food Information for Consumers (FIC) regulation is due to come into force across the EU on December 13, and with its requirement to identify specific vegetable oils on ingredient lists.... The palm oil industry had feared that the rules would lead to mass reformulation, as manufacturers responded to perceived consumer concerns about palm oil's sustainability and health effects. However this has not happened, the EPOA (European Palm Oil Alliance) says..."There has sure been a stagnation of palm oil use over the past three or four years, but it's not been the big drop that some had feared" (EPOA's Margaret Logman) said..... (FEDOIL's Nathalie Lecocq) pointed out that oils have a specific function that can't always be replicated. "It would be a mistake to think we need to get rid of one oil because it is imported," she said.... some palm oil producers have also said that the FIC regulations have spurred manufacturers to source more sustainable palm oil...."