New Zealand’s four major zoos are throwing their support behind Unmask Palm Oil in a campaign that’s calling on Kiwis to join them in demanding clear labelling of palm oil on all food products. Ahead of a key vote on labelling being held on 25 November, the ‘Ask for Choice’ campaign wants to show the ministers who are representing Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) that consumers want choice.
"Every New Zealander should be able to choose what’s in their food," says Unmask Palm Oil founder Ben Dowdle. "Clear labelling is the best step forward for consumers so that they can demand sustainable palm oil, make better nutrition decisions, and create a level playing field."
Palm oil is estimated to be in about half of all products available in supermarkets and currently only has to be labelled on food as ‘vegetable oil’. Mandatory labelling will mean consumers can make informed choices about the products they buy.
Auckland Zoo, Hamilton Zoo, Wellington Zoo, Orana Wildlife Park and Unmask Palm Oil have joined forces to share the message with their communities to push for this change to ultimately save animals in the wild. The wild homes of critically endangered species like Sumatran tigers and orangutans are at risk from deforestation, as large areas of their habitat are cleared to make way for large unsustainable palm oil plantations in South East Asia.
However, palm oil can be produced without deforestation. The zoos and Unmask Palm Oil support the use of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO), which certifies palm oil plantations to ensure they are deforestation free. By pushing for CSPO and demanding clear labelling, we can make sure that the problem doesn’t shift to other parts of the world and onto oils which are less productive than palm oil, therefore requiring more land.
New Zealanders wanting to make the switch from conventional palm oil in order to demand Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) will soon discover that Australasian labelling laws make it nearly impossible to make this simple ethical choice.
"Consumer pressure in combination with well-enforced local legislation will result in the preservation of pristine rainforest," says Dowdle. "Mandatory labelling will help everyone to choose sustainable palm oil – and, in turn, help Sumatran tigers, orangutans and thousands of other animals that rely on these wild habitats to survive."
If you’d like to choose what’s in your food, you can visit a community action station at any of the four zoos between August and November, where you can send a postcard to Minister Jo Goodhew, asking her to vote ‘yes’ to clear labelling of palm oil on products.
Cant make it to your nearest zoo? Visit www.unmaskpalmoil.com/orana and send in your support online.