Banned Iceland advert: Which products contain palm oil?

13 November 2018, 11:54

By Tom Eames

Iceland's moving advert was banned from TV for being 'too political'.

The supermarket worked with Greenpeace to create an animation about an orangutan whose home had been destroyed by palm oil producers.

However, Clearcast, the firm who decide which adverts will be shown in the UK, ruled it “contravenes the prohibition on political advertising”.

Iceland advert
Iceland's advert was banned for being 'too political'. Picture: Iceland

This decision has been met with hundreds of thousands of people watching it online, and an online petition to get it shown on TV has reached over 700,000 signatures.

Earlier this year, Iceland was the first major supermarket in the UK to ban products using palm oil, due to environmental issues. But what exactly is palm oil and which products use it?

  1. What is palm oil?

    Palm oil
    Picture: Getty

    Palm oil is a vegetable oil made from the fruits of trees known as African oil palms.

    These trees are usually grown in plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia.

    The oil is very naturally high in saturated vegetable fats. It is found in half of all supermarket products, including processed food, toiletries and cosmetics.

  2. Why does palm oil badly affect the environment?

    Palm oil
    Picture: Getty

    Palm oil production is thought to have been responsible for approximately 8% of the world’s deforestation between 1990 and 2008.

    This is due to large increase in demand for palm oil, because of its supposed health benefits and low production costs.

    Forests are usually burned down, to clear areas where people can grow oil palms, and this sometimes happens illegally.

    Large areas of forests in south-east Asia and Africa have been destroyed, with 100,000 orangutans lost between 1999 and 2015 alone.

    Plus, other animals such as rhinos and tigers and indigenous people have had their homes and lives destroyed because of palm oil production.

  3. Which products contain palm oil?

    Palm oil is contained in half of all packaged supermarket products, such as:

    - Lipstick

    - Instant noodles

    - Shampoo

    - Ice cream

    - Detergent

    - Margarine

    - Chocolate

    - Cookies

    - Soap

    - Packaged bread

  4. How can I spot or avoid palm oil in products I buy?

    Many products that use palm oil may not always clearly label the fact. It can appear under variius names, including:

    Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol

    Many companies may hide palm oil in the ingredients by writing 'vegetable oil', but usually it will be a combination of oils that contains the palm oil.

    However, you can instead buy products that use sustainable palm oil. The RSPO provide companies with a symbol, if the palm oil they use is from sustainable sources.

    This means the company has proven that no forests or areas that contain endangered species or fragile ecosystems have been cleared. Look out for this symbol:

    Palm oil symbol
    Picture: RSPO