Iceland supermarkets are leading the field when it comes to protecting the environment, having just announced they will stop using palm oil as an ingredient in their own-brand food by the end of the year.
Iceland is the first major UK supermarket to ban palm oil, and cited the devastating deforestation that occurs as a result of obtaining palm oil as a key reason. The Deeside-based chain will remove palm oil from 130 of their own-brand food lines and substitute it with butter, sunflower oil and other items. This is estimated to reduce demand by more than 500,000kg a year.
Palm oil is a vegetable oil obtained from palm trees which grow naturally in tropical rainforests. Due to increased demand, however, palm trees are harvested intensively for their oil. Approximately 8% of the world’s deforestation from 1990 to 2008 occurred in order to make space for palm oil farming. This negatively affects habitats, biodiversity and wildlife, while contributing to air pollution levels and climate change.
The World Wide Fund for Nature says there are several foods you’re likely eating that may contain palm oil. Always check the label before buying.
- Biscuits – check your favourite biscuit brands for palm oil.
Pizza – palm oil prevents the dough from sticking.
- Ice cream – palm oil increases the creaminess of ice cream.
- Chocolate – palm oil helps prevent chocolate from melting and increases shine.
- Bread – processed bread often contains palm oil.
- Margarine – palm oil is used in margarine because it solidifies at room temperature and doesn’t contain trans fats.