THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2011
THE BLOG OF THE RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK

Palm Oil's Dirty Secret: The Many Ingredient Names For Palm Oil

palm oil infographic

Did you see the palm oil infographic we released today? I hope so! If you haven't seen it yet, check it out.

Were you shocked to find out that palm oil is in half of the products in your pantry? Yep, that's right, palm oil is in roughly 50% of all packaged goods, from cookies, peanut butter, and breakfast cereal to cleaning products, laundry detergent, lipstick, and body lotion.

Are you wondering how that's possible, because you don't see the words "palm oil" on many of the ingredient labels in your pantry?

Here's the scoop: Palm oil is often disguised, hidden behind many different ingredient names you probably don't recognize when you go to your pantry or bathroom to check. To make things even more confusing for you as a consumer, sometimes companies will only disclose ingredients like "vegetable oil," and though that vegetable oil blend likely contains palm oil, it's not always a labeling requirement.

To help you navigate these confusing waters and avoid unwittingly voting for rainforest destruction with your dollars, here is a partial list of other names for palm oil-derived ingredients:*

  • PKO - Palm Kernel Oil
  • PKO fractionations: Palm Kernel Stearin (PKs); Palm Kernel Olein (PKOo)
  • PHPKO - Partially hydrogenated Palm Oil
  • FP(K)O - Fractionated Palm Oil
  • OPKO - Organic Palm Kernel Oil
  • Palmitate - Vitamin A or Asorbyl Palmitate (NOTE: Vitamin A Palmitate is a very common ingredient in breakfast cereals and we have confirmed 100% of the samples we've investigated to be derived from palm oil)
  • Palmate
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate (Can also be from coconut)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphates (can also be from ricinus oil)
  • Sodium dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
  • Elaeis Guineensis
  • Glyceryl Stearate
  • Stearic Acid
  • Chemicals which contain palm oil
  • Steareth -2
  • Steareth -20
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (coconut and/or palm)
  • Hydrated palm glycerides
  • Sodium isostearoyl lactylaye (derived from vegetable stearic acid)
  • Cetyl palmitate and octyl palmitate (names with palmitate at the end are usually derived from palm oil, but as in the case of Vitamin A Palmitate, very rarely a company will use a different vegetable oil)

*Disclaimer: Through research we've found that Vitamin A Palmitate can be derived from any combination of vegetable oil such as olive, coconut, canola and/or palm oil. Though in all the cases we've documented, companies use palm oil to make derivatives like Vitamin A Palmitate, it can be tricky to know for sure.

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  • commented 2016-05-21 12:36:09 -0700
    The work that you are doing is so important. More people should know about palm oil and its disastrous effects on the rainforest and the environment.
  • commented 2016-03-04 18:44:57 -0800
    Use this to know how to identify palm oil on ingredient labels on food, soaps, cosmetics or body care. Thank you Rainforest Action Network!