The United Nations has warned that orang-utans could be extinct within a generation. Palm oil production is the single biggest threat to their survival. Its rampant cultivation is destroying rainforest habitat at an alarming rate. The simple fact is that Australian Consumers can’t tell whether they are contributing to this crisis because palm oil is not labelled on most food products – often labelled as ‘vegetable oil’.
Zoos Victoria believe you have the right to know if the products you buy contain palm oil. You have the right to choose food products that won’t push orang-utans to extinction but you currently don’t have that choice. Since late 2009, Zoos Victoria’s Don’t Palm Us Off campaign has advocated for the mandatory labelling of palm oil in all food products in Australia and New Zealand to grant consumers the choice.
Don’t Palm Us Off aims to:
- Raise public awareness, exposing the link between food products and the risk to orang-utan survival in the wild.
- Change food labelling legislation in Australia and New Zealand to mandate the labelling of palm oil.
- Create a market for certified sustainable palm oil by giving consumers their right to choose products that don’t push orang-utans to extinction.
Facilitating Conservation Action
In the first 12 months, Don’t Palm Us Off collected petition signatures from the public demanding their right to clearly identify palm oil in products through mandatory palm oil labelling. The many thousands of signatures collected highlighted the widespread community concern about this hidden ingredient. Zoos Victoria has continued to offer our community targeted actions to maintain pressure on government and food manufacturers. We have also facilitated action through profiling product brands who have taken steps to ensure they don’t impact orang-utan habitat and practice clear labelling. Zoos Victoria has provided a strong voice for the community’s concerns and will continue to fight for transparent palm oil labelling in Australian and New Zealand, in order to drive a market for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).
- Don’t Palm us Off has Inspired more than 160,000 petition signatures demanding mandatory palm oil labelling.
- Increased the availability of orang-utan friendly products on supermarket shelves (including Country Life Soaps and Orange Power cleaning products).
- Independent Senator Nick Xenophon introduced the Truth in Labelling (Palm Oil) Bill 2009, calling for the mandatory labelling of palm oil, inspired by Don’t Palm Us Off – To be reintroduced in 2012.
- Zoos Victoria was awarded the 2011 Banksia Environmental Foundation People’s Choice Award, reinforcing the continued strong public support for the issue.
How You Can Help?
You can voice your opinion on behalf of orang-utans and exercise your right as an informed consumer by demanding the right to know whether your purchases are driving orang-utans to extinction:
- Write to your local Member of Parliament demanding your right to be an informed consumer.
- Write to your favourite food manufacturers asking them to source Certified Sustainable palm oil, and to clearly label palm oil products.
- Download a palm oil ingredient card to help identify misleading descriptions used for palm oil on food products.