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Palm Oil – why should we stop using it?

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil, that comes from palm trees which are native to West Africa. It is the world’s most used vegetable oil (66 million tons are produced every year) and has been used for centuries in food, medicine and manufacturing. According to the WWF for Nature, 42 countries now produce it.

What is the problem?

Oil palm trees are highly productive so it costs a lot less than other oils on the market. This has pushed the production rate up enormously and now, palm oil plantations cover 27 million hectares of our planet. This production is estimated to triple by 2050 – that means 198 million tons

What is it affecting?

Palm oil has affected so much. Rainforest animals (such as orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos) have all been cleared out of their homes just so Palm Oil can be collected and made for US.

This horrible oil has clearly put so many animal’s lives at stake. Sadly, people are also losing their homes too due to living near the forests that produce it. We need to stop buying any products that contain palm oil.

What awareness has been made about this?

There has been several articles in newspapers and magazines about this problem but none have managed to successfully make a big impact on the awareness of this never-ending problem until recently…

The biggest impact to date was from Iceland (a supermarket), an ad titled: Orangutan in my bedroom. This advert was very touching and many people were affected by the message it carried but unfortunately it was banned because it was too political. Which made it even more popular.

The advert was about an Orangutan in a little girl’s bedroom, the Orangutan disliked all the products in the bedroom because they had palm oil in them. The main part of the ad was the rainforest being chopped down and showing the Orangutans killed by the falling trees – their own habitat. At the end, a message clearly explained how much it has affected the animals lives. The advert was also supported by Greenpeace

What you can do to help

Every time you buy a product, check the label for palm oil, if there is some contained, put the product back on the shelf and choose another. You’ll quickly see how many daily products contain this oil!

Other words on the ingredients list to look out for are: – palm, kernal, stearine and fruit oil. Other technical names include palmitate, palmate and palmitoyl.

List of food items that often contain palm oil


According to a survey by the Rainforest Foundation in 2017, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons all use palm oil in their bakeries. Most Waitrose bread is palm-oil free, as is all Weight Watchers bread.

Make your own bread or go to the local bakery!


Palm oil is regularly found in ready meals. Did you know that Instant noodles contain up to 20 per cent of packet weight? Watch out for frozen pizzas, curries, stews and even beef Wellingtons – they’re all most likely to include palm oil.


Palm oil gives chocolate a smooth shiny appearance, and many of the most celebrated brands use it. The Telegraph found that most chocolate spreads, including Nutella, included palm oil. The more expensive the chocolate spread is, the less likely it was to contain palm oil or derivatives. So look for the more expensive brand.

According to Greenpeace, Cadbury, Oreo, Milka, Terry’s, and Toblerone, have been responsible for the destruction of 70,000 hectares of rainforest. Switch to palm oil free chocolate brands like Divine, Montezuma, and most of Waitrose and M&S’s products.


Palm oil is often used in ice creams as a suitable replacement for dairy fats, as they help give ice cream its thicker viscosity while keeping it smooth and creamy. Tesco, Morrisons and Nestlé ice creams all score badly but Ben & Jerry fans will be happy to know that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Phish Food contain none.


Nut butters regularly top up their nut content with palm oil. While many use sustainable palm oil, only Meridian’s offering is completely palm oil free


Margarines routinely include palm oil – it is essentially vegetable oil, after all – to keep it solid at room temperature. Butters however, fare better. Switching to butter, even of the spreadable variety, can help reduce your palm oil intake. 


Many healthier breakfast cereal brands are palm oil free, including Rude Health, MOMA and Infinity Foods. 

We hope that we have helped raise awareness on palm oil and the devastating effect it has on our environment and the animals who live there. We would really like to ask you to be more careful when you next go shopping and stamp out palm oil one product at a time.

written by Abigail and Danni


Blog Club is held on a Monday evening and is a group of about 20 pupils from Riverview Junior School who choose their own content and with the help of the teachers, create blog posts for you to read.

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