The indiscriminate use of the “palm oil free” claim, that appears on the packaging of food products, risks fooling citizen consumers into making the wrong choices. A comparative analysis of the nutritional values appearing on the packaging of 60 products demonstrates that “palm oil free” product labels do not match lower levels of saturated fats.
Palm oil has fallen victim to a defamatory campaign for reasons that are obviously commercial. Many food companies have removed it from their products, saying they want to reduce saturated fat content. The absence of palm oil has been clearly highlighted on packaging and in different communication campaigns, linking this directly or indirectly with improved quality and more wholesome products.
This second edition of the study “Palm oil free, with more saturated fats” (view the first edition here), provides a wider analysis of products present on the market confirming the conclusions contained in the first version. It reveals in fact, that in many cases the absence of palm oil does not correspond to lower levels of saturated facts, compared to similar products that do contain palm oil. In other cases the benefit is barely significant from a nutritional perspective, above all when taking into account the daily diet as a whole.
Moreover, the use of the “palm oil free” label presents a misleading message, even from an environmental perspective. Palm oil plantations are in fact the most sustainable of all crops. They can be only be replaced by less sustainable crops, with evident harm to the environment. In addition to having a greater yield per hectare, when compared to other vegetable oils, such as rapeseed and soya, palm oil requires less fertilizers, pesticides and energy.
The conclusion, therefore, is that the indiscriminate use of the “palm oil free” claim, that appears on the packaging of food products, risks fooling citizen consumers into making the wrong choices. The analysis by For Free Choice has demonstrated that “palm oil free” product labels are often misleading and that the detractors’ accusations are often unfounded.