This post was originally published on October 20, 2016 and updated on October 26, 2021.

The old saying in journalism – headlines sell papers – is still true today. Only now, headlines are often digital and they can be shared with millions of people who don’t read beyond them. This Halloween, some headlines warn that palm oil in Halloween candy is killing orangutans. We appreciate the marketing tactic but it’s disturbing that these headlines overshadow the truths contained within most of these articles. The palm oil in most Halloween candy is sustainably produced, and palm oil is healthier for our environment than corn or canola oil.

The overwhelming majority of palm oil in the U.S. comes from Malaysia, where it is certified sustainable. We are preserving our rainforests. We prohibit burning. We have stringent policies in place to care for our wildlife and their habitats. Palm oil production requires less land than other seed crops, and each tree produces fruit for 20-30 years.

The Malaysian government and palm oil industry are committed to maintaining our market share over the producers of the “conflict palm oil” that is more closely associated with negative environmental practices.

We applaud the writers and editors who explain to their readers that companies such as Kellogg’s, Hershey, Mars, Nestle, Kraft, Pepsico, Ghirardelli and Lindt are committed to using Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). We encourage readers to do business with the companies on these lists.

palm oil

And we are strongly advocating that companies take their commitment to certified sustainable palm oil even further. As responsible global citizens, we encourage food manufacturers to clearly label their products to tell consumers that they’ve committed to sourcing sustainable palm oil.

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It’s called “eco-labeling”. You might remember a few decades ago when companies started labeling their tuna as “dolphin safe”. That’s a familiar example of eco-labeling. Current palm oil industry certifications are:
Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO)
Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO)
Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO)

Palm oil is currently found in at least 50 percent of the packaged goods in U.S. grocery stores. Our goal is that “orangutan safe” – or something similar – will one day becomes a mainstream component of package labels.

You can help by supporting those companies committed to using only certified sustainable palm oil.

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