Claim – Australian parliamentarian Jason Wood claimed in the Australian Parliament this week that: Palm Oil labelling in Australia is ‘misleading’; palm oil is unhealthy; causes mass deforestation in Malaysia; and is responsible for animal extinctions such as the orang-utan.

Truth: 

Here are the facts.

Palm oil labelling in Australia is not ‘misleading’. All vegetable oils — whether palm, canola, sunflower — are simply labelled as ‘vegetable oil’. This is what is required by current regulations. The governments of Australia and New Zealand are currently deciding whether to change this system, to specify the origin of the vegetable oil.

Palm oil is not unhealthy. Saturated fats are consumed mainly via meat, cheese and butter — particularly in the Western world. Palm Oil is also a replacement for trans fats, which are particularly dangerous and cause major health problems.

Malaysia is not subject to mass deforestation from palm oil. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Forest Assessment states that Malaysia’s forest area loss over the past 25 years has effectively been zero, and that forest area has increased over the past 15 years. More than two-thirds of Malaysia is forested. Australia’s level of forest area loss is in fact higher than Malaysia’s.

Malaysia has active and well-recognised conservation programmes, and orang-utan are a protected species under Malaysian law.

Jason Wood – and other campaigners in Australia – need to get their facts straight rather than simply use their political positions to denigrate palm oil.