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Why ‘No Palm Oil’ Labelling is Illegal in the EU - Palm Oil Today
Food manufacturers and retailers in parts of the European Union (EU) have affixed ‘No palm oil’ or ‘palm oil-free’ labels and/or logos to their products. The labels appear to be most widespread in Belgium and France, but are being increasingly identified in Italy and certain Scandinavian countries. Although the labels and logos may appear to be advertising schemes, they constitute nothing less than smear campaigns. Operators seek to advertise their food products as being healthier, greener or better than competing ones containing palm oil. This is based on false allegations suggesting that palm oil is environmentally- and socially-unfriendly or that its consumption leads to health problems. Environmental excuse Unsolicited information is often given to consumers to convince them of the supposedly negative effects of palm oil production. Operators conveniently ignore the fact that a significant part of palm oil production is certified as sustainable under internationally-recognised and reputable schemes, such as the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil scheme and the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil standard. Applicable EU legislation forbids unsubstantiated generalisations. In particular, it prohibits any advertising that deceives consumers in order to affect their economic behaviour in a way that ultimately injures competitors. As this is exactly the effect that the ‘No palm oil’ label seeks, it is prohibited. ‘No palm oil’ and ‘palm oil-free’ claims are therefore illegal under specific legislation that applies to the whole of the EU. Nutritional allegations Another justification relies on the unfounded notion that consuming palm oil increases cardiovascular risk to dangerously high levels. The allegations neglect the …