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A Rose By Any Other Name…

would smell as dodgy. One of the biggest challenges I will have to face in my quest to give up unsustainable palm oil, is figuring out which products contain it. The fact that there is no legislation forcing companies to label palm oil as a separate ingredient means that they can very easily get away with providing very ambiguous listings such as ‘Vegetable Oils and Fats’, which could be anything, really, or complex chemical names that are harder to decipher than Egyptian hieroglyphics. Either way, this skirting around the subject makes it almost impossible to know for sure whether or not you are buying the right products, and consequently feeds the idea that taking this kind of stand is all too hard.

Here are some of the many names palm oil could be listed, supplied again by SNTPO

-Vegetable Oil
-Vegetable Fat
-Sodium Laureth Sulfate (in almost everything that foams)
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
-Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
-Palm Kernel
-Palm Oil Kernel
-Palm Fruit Oil
-Glyceryl Stearate
-Stearic Acid
-Elaeis Guineensis
-Palmitic Acid
-Palm Stearine
-Palmitoyl oxostearamide
-Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3
-Steareth -2
-Steareth -20
-Sodium Kernelate
-Sodium Palm Kernelate
-Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
-Hyrated Palm Glycerides
-Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylaye
-Cetyl Palmitate
-Octyl Palmitate
-Cetyl Alcohol
-Palmityl Alchohol

As an ex first year chemistry student, I don’t really have a problem with ingredients being listed in their scientific forms, seeing as most of the particularly scary looking ones (anyone care for some Palmitoyl oxostearamide?) are found not in foods but in body products, cosmetics and cleaning products. However, I do have a problem with them being used to confuse consumers. And I think I have the right to know what I’m putting in my mouth, or on my skin, or using to cover up my zits.

This is the reason why we need to change the legislation, to give people a fighting chance to choose whether or not they want to be buying products that use unsustainable palm oil, and contributing to the consequences. Even if we put aside the arguments as to why it should be boycotted by the consumer public, the bottom line is simple, and hardly unreasonable; we all have the right to choose what we buy, regardless of which side of the fence you stand on.  These rights should be honoured by the government.

I’ve put this list up, along with lists of some products that have been confirmed to contain palm oil, on the ‘Product Lists’ Page. You might be shocked at how many of your favourite treats or guilty pleasures have made the cut.


7 responses »

  1. Good day! I was directed here by our mutual & beautiful friend Miranda. I was curious if your reasoning for avoiding unsustainable palm oil is specifically because it is unsustainable, and you’re still OK with the use of sustainable palm oil? Also, I was wondering if palm oil is indeed sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate? Thanks, love. Great post!

    • Hi Antonia! Thankyou so much for reading and commenting 🙂
      Because the palm oil industry is so important for the economic survival of these countries, it’s hard to justify cutting out the use of palm oil altogether, without providing an alternative source of income for the people involved. However, I think that by shifting to sustainable palm oil we can protect the forests, the species that live there and the income of the Indonesian and Malaysian communities. The Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil has outlined 8 principles and 39 criteria to determine whether a plantation is sustainable, whih you can read here over on their website ( It states that plantations should ‘ensure that fundamental rights of previous land owners, local communities, plantation workers, small farmers and their families are respected and fully taken into account, that no new primary forests or high conservation value areas have been cleared for palm oil production since November 2005, and that mills and plantation owners minimize their environmental footprint’ in order to be considered sustainable.

      As for your question regarding sodium lauryl sulfate, it can often be dervived from palm oil, but it can also be derived from other vegetable oils. That’s why it’s so important that palm oil is labelled on products, to eliminate all this guesswork,
      Thanks again, and please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any more questions. Have a wonderful day 🙂

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