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Palm oil labelling

How can you spot when products contain palm oil or its derivatives? We look at the 436 different names for palm oil as an ingredient, labelling laws and the different palm oil accreditation marks.

Palm oil is said to be found in 50% of supermarket products, from food to household cleaners to cosmetics.

It is a type of vegetable oil derived from palm oil fruit. This controversial ingredient may be present in some form in nearly every room of your home. It is widely used for its properties and because it is cheap.

Its low price is partly due to its high yield, but also because, as with other mass produced crops, the environmental and social costs go unaccounted for. 

Is it easy to see if palm oil is in a product?

Since 2014 the EU law on food information to consumers (known as FIC) has ensured that any food items containing palm oil must be labelled as such.

Until the introduction of this law, palm oil on an ingredients list on food items could be referred to in a variety of different ways. These were often quite generic such as vegetable oil or cocoa butter substitute (CBS). 

However many argue that the new law has not gone far enough as it only applies to food items and doesn’t cover palm oil derivatives either in food and non-food items. These are still hidden under a plethora of misleading synonyms.

Image: palm oil derivatives

Spotting palm oil derivatives

Much of the palm oil we consume appears in a number of processed forms, ‘derivatives’ of the oil itself.

These 500 or so different substances make up about 60% of global palm oil use.

The names obscure the source, so it is hard to tell if you are consuming a product from palm oil or not.

But, as palm oil campaign site Selva Beat says: “the ultimate trick to being able to spot palm-oil derivatives in most things lies in recognising the building blocks”.

Memorising the four words pictured above will help you spot over half of the fatty acid compounds that are often made from palm oil.

Spotting an ingredient whose name includes one of these root words does not mean it is definitely made from palm but is a clue which can be followed up by contacting the company.

Palm oil labels

logo: international palm oil free certification trademark and accreditation

The International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark & Accreditation Programme

The International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark & Accreditation Programme is an independent, not for profit certification programme approved to certify products, companies or processes in 12 countries with applications pending in 5 others.

The countries our certification trademark is approved so far are in Australia, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Spain, Austria, Sweden, the USA, Italy, France & Finland.

Each product or company displaying this international palm oil free certification trademark has been assessed and certified palm oil and palm oil derivative free.  

Orangutan Alliance's label

Orangutan Alliance's label

Orangutan Alliance is an independent industry-based, non-profit organisation and registered charity promoting the reduction of non-sustainable palm oil in consumer products.

The Orangutan Alliance No Palm Oil Certification Program is a program for manufacturers and brands, enabling them to use the Orangutan Alliance Palm Oil Free certification trademark to certify that no palm oil or palm oil derivatives are used in their approved consumer products.

RSPO Label

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

Companies that are part of the RSPO can use this logo on their products

Read more about the RSPO.


Iceland No Palm Oil Label

Iceland's 'No Palm Oil' label

The supermarket Iceland is using its own logo to show which of its own products are palm oil free.

Iceland is the first supermarket to remove palm oil from all of its own brand products. However, since June 2022 Iceland has begun using certified sustainable palm oil in some of its Iceland-branded products due to supply issues with obtaining sunflower oil because of the Russia invasion of Ukraine. Iceland has said they intend to revert to sunflower oil again as soon as practical to do so.

Read more about Iceland and palm oil.

Read our guide to supermarkets to see how Iceland compares on other issues.


Alternative names for palm oil derivatives.

Below are some examples of how palm oil may be referred to on packaging. 

This doesn't mean that all these ingredients are definitely palm oil, (for instance E471 may be palm oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil or canola oil), but they could be.

The list is from the Orangutan Alliance. 

Acetic and fatty acid esters of glycerol (472a/E472a)

Acetylated Monoglycerides

Alkylamidopropyl betaine

Alkyl alcohol

Alkyl betaine

Alkyl ether sulfate

Alkyl Polyglucoside

Aluminum Myristates/Palmitates

Aluminium stearate

Aluminium, calcium, sodium, magnesium salts of fatty acids (470/E470a; E470b)

Amidopropyl betaine

Ammonium laureth sulphate

Ammonium lauryl sulphate

Amphoteric surfactant

Anionic surfactant


Arachamide mea

Ascorbyl palmitate (304)

Ascorbyl stearate

Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate (vitamin C)

Azelaic acid

Beta Carotene

Behentrimonium Methosulfate


Butyl Myristate

Butyl stearate

Calcium lactylate

Calcium Myristate

Calcium oleyl lactylate

Calcium stearate

Calcium stearoyl lactylate


Capric triglyceride

Caprylic acid

Caprylic / Capric Glycerides

Caprylic triglyceride

Caprylic/capric triglyceride

Caprylic/capric/stearic triglyceride

Capryloyl glycine

Caprylyl glycol

Carboxylic acid soap

Carotene (Sometimes made from palm)

Castile soap (often from palm)

Castor Isostearate Beeswax Succinate

Ceteareth (2-100)

Ceteareth mbsfl laurethulanate 

Ceteareth mbhe laurethulanate

Cetearyl alcohol

Cetearyl ethylhexanote

Cetearyl glucoside

Cetearyl isononanoate

Cetearyl and Sorbitan Olivate



Cetostearyl Alcohol

Cetrimonium Bromide

Cetremonium Chloride

Cetyl acetate

Cetyl alcohol

Cetyl chloride

Cetyl ethylhexanoate

Cetyl hydroxyethylcellulose

Cetyl lactate

Cetyl Myristate

Cetyl octanoate

Cetyl palmitate

Cetylpyridinium chloride

Cetyl ricinoleate

Cetyltrimethylammonium bromide

Cetyltrimethylammonium chloride

Citric and fatty acid esters of glycerol

Cocoa butter equivalent (CBE)

Cocoa butter substitute (CBS)

Cocamide DEA

Cocamide MEA

Cocamidopropyl betaine



Coco Polyglucose

Cocoyl Sarcosine

Conditioning emulsifier

Decyl Glucoside

Decyl Myristate

Decyl oleate

Diacetyltartaric acid esters of monoglycerides

Diacetyltartaric and fatty acid esters of glycerol

Dicaprylyl ether

Dicocoylethyl Hydroxyethylmonium Methosulfate

Dihydroxystearic acid

Diisostearyl Malate

Dilinoleic acid

Dipalmitoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate

Di-ppg-2 myreth-10 adipate?

Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate

Disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate

Distilled Monoglyceride Palm


Elaeis guineensis

Emulsifiers: E304, E422, E430, E431, E432, E433, E434, E435, E436, E470, E470a, E470b, E471, E472, E472a, E472b, E472c, E472e, E472f, E473, E474, E475, E476, E477, E478, E479, E480, E481, E482, E483, E493, E494, E495

Emulsifying wax

Epoxidized palm oil (uv cured coatings)


Esters of Myristic Acid

Ethoxylated Lauryl Alcohol

Ethoxylated Monoglycerides

Ethoxylated SMS

Ethoxylated SMO

Ethoxylated STS

Ethyl lauroyl arginate (243)

Ethyl myristate

Ethyl palmitate

Ethylene glycol diesters

Ethylene glycol monoesters

Ethylene glycol monostearate

Ethyl hexyl Esters-2


Ethylhexyl hydroxystearate

Ethylhexyl Isononanoate

Ethylhexyl Myristate

Ethylhexyl Palminate

Ethylhexyl palmitate

Ethylhexyl stearate


Etyl Palmitate

Fatty acids

Fatty acid methyl esters (FAME)

Fatty alcohol alkoxylate

Fatty alcohol sulphates

Fatty amines

Fatty isethionate

FP(K)O – Fractionated Palm Oil

Fractionated Palm Oil


Glycerin or glycerol (442)

Glycerol esters

Glyceryl cocoate

Glyceryl dioleate

Glyceryl Dimyristate

Glyceryl distearate

Glyceryl laurate

Glyceryl Linoleate

Glyceryl monostearate

Glyceryl myristate

Glyceryl oleate

Glyceryl polymethacrylate

Glyceryl Rosinate

Glyceryl stearate

Glyceryl stearate SE

Glycol distearate

Glycol stearate

Guineesis (palm)

Hexadecanoic acid


Hexyl laurate


Humectant 422

Humectant glycerol

Hydrated palm glycerides

Hydrogenated palm glycerides

Hydroxy Stearic Linolenic

Isoamyl Laurate

Isobutyl Myristate

Isocetyl alcohol

Isocetyl Myristate

Isocetyl stearate

Isodecyl Myristate

Isodecyl oleate

Isononyl Isononanoate

Isopropyl esters

Isopropyl isostearate

Isopropyl Myristate

Isopropyl palmitate

Isopropyl titanium triisostearate

Isostearamide DEA

Isostearate DEA

Isostearic acid

Isostearyl alcohol

Isostearyl Hydroxystearate

Isostearyl isostearate

Isostearyl Myristate

Isostearyl neopentanoate

Isotridecyl Myristate

Lactic and fatty acid easters of glycerol

Lactylated Monoglycerides

Lauramide DEA

Lauramide MEA

Lauramine oxide

Laureth (Laureth-1, Laureth-2, Laureth-3, Laureth-5, Laureth-6, Laureth-7, Laureth-8, Laureth-9, Laureth-10, Laureth-11, Laureth-12, Laureth-13, Laureth-14, Laureth-15, Laureth-16, Laureth-20, Laureth-21, Laureth-25, Laureth-30, Laureth-38, Laureth-40, Laureth-50)

Lauric acid

Lauroyl Lactylate

Lauroyl Lysine

Lauroyl sarcosine

Lauryl Alcohol

Lauryl Alcohol Ethoxylates

Lauryl betaine

Lauryl dimonium hydrolysed collagen

Lauryl lactate

Lauryl glucoside (from palm)

Lauryl Myristate

Lauryl pyrrolidone

Lauryl Sarcosine


Lecithin Isopropyl Palm Oil

Levulinic Acid

Linoleic acid

Magnesium myristate

Magnesium stearate

Metallic salts of lactylic esters of fatty acids

Methyl Myristate

Mixed tartaric, acetic and fatty acid esters of glycerol

Mono and di-glycerides of fatty acids

Mono glycerides of fatty acids

Monoglyceride citrate


Myreth 3 Myrisrate


Myristic acid

Myristic Cetrimonium Chloride Acid


Myristyl myristate

Myristoyl Sarcosine

Myristoyl Sarcosinate

Myristyl alcohol

Myristyl myristate

N-Butyl Esters

Nonionic surfactant

Octadecanoic acid

Octyl palmitate

Octyl stearate


Octyldodecyl myristate

Octydodecyl stearate

Octyldodecyl stearoyl stearate

Oleamide MIPA

Oleic acid

Oleyl betaine

Oleyl Myristate

Oleoyl Sarcosine

Olivem 1000


Oliv-wax LQC

OPKO – Organic Palm Kernel Oil


Palm fruit oil

Palmitoleic acid

Palm kernel amidopropyl amine oixde

Palm kernel amidopropyl betaine?

Palm kernel cake

Palm Kernel Diethanolamide 

Palm kernel oil

Palm Kernel Olein

Palm Kernel Stearin

Palm oil

Palm olein oil

Palm stearine



Palmitamidopropyl betaine

Palmitamidopropyltrimonium chloride

Palmitic acid

Palmitoyl acid

Palmitoyl alcohol

Palmitoyl myristyl serinate

Palm oleic acid

Palmitoyl oligopeptide

Palmitoyl oxostearamide

Palmitoyl tetrapeptide

Palmitoleic acid

Palm Methyl Ester

PBS Base




Partially hydrogenated Palm Oil

PEG-150 Distearate

Pentaerythritol tetra caprai caprylate

Pentaerythrityl tetracaprylate/tetracaprate

Pentaerythrityl tetraisostearate

Peptide complex

PG dicaprylate/caprate

PHPKO – Partially hydrogenated Palm Oil

PKO – Palm Kernel Oil

PKO fractionations: Palm Kernel Stearin (PKs); Palm Kernel Olein

PK oleic acid

Planta cleanse

Polyaminopropyl biguanide stearate

Polyethylene (40) stearate (431)


Polyglycerol esters of fatty acids

Polyglycerol esters of interesterified ricinoleic acid

Polyglycerol-2 oleyl ether

Polyglyceryl-3 dilisostearate

Polyglyceryl-3 Palmitate?

Polyglyceryl-4 isostearate

Polyglyceryl-4 laurate

Polyglyceryl-4 oleyl ether

Polyglyceryl-10 heptahydroxystearate

Polyhydroxystearic Acid

Polysorbate 60 or polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monostearate

Polysorbate 65 or polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan tristearate

Polysorbate 80 or polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monoolate







Potassium Cetyl Phosphate

Potassium Myristate

Potassium stearate

Propanediol dicaprylate

Propylene Glycol Alginate

Propylene glycol esters of fatty acids

Propylene glycol laurate

Propylene glycol monoester

Propylene Glycol Myristate

Propylene glycol stearate

Retinyl palmitate

Saponified elaeis guineensis

Saturated Fatty acid




sodium alkyl sulfate

Sodium cetearyl sulphate

Sodium cocoyl glutamate

sodium cocoyl glycinate

Sodium cocoyl isethionate

Sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate

Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)

Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylaye

Sodium lactylate; sodium oleyl lactylate; sodium stearoyl lactylate

Sodium laurate

Sodium laurel

Sodium laureth sulfate

Sodium laureth sulphate

Sodium laureth – 1 sulphate

Sodium laureth – 2 sulphate

Sodium laureth – 3 sulphate

Sodium laureth-13 carboxylate

Sodium lauroamphoacetate

Sodium lauroyl lactylate

Sodium lauryl

Sodium lauryl ether sulphate

Sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate

Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate

Sodium lauryl sulfate

Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate

Sodium lauryl sulphate

Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate

Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate

Sodium Myristate

Sodium palm kernelate

Sodium palm kerneloyl isethionate

Sodium palmate

Sodium palmitate

Sodium polyarylsulfonate

Sodium stearate

Sodium stearoyl Fumarate

Sodium stearoyl glutamate

Sodium stearoyl lactylate

Sodium Trideceth sulphate

Solubiliser PS20

Sorbitan Caprylate

Sorbitan Cocoate

Sorbitan Diisostearate

Sorbitan Distearate

Sorbitan ester

Sorbitan isotearate

Sorbitan laurate

Sorbitan monoglyceride

Sorbitan monolaurate

Sorbitan monopalmitate

Sorbitan monostearate (491)

Sorbitan oleate

Sorbitan olivate

Sorbitan palmitate

Sorbitan sesquioleate

Sorbitan trioleate

Sorbitan tristearate

Sorbitan tristearate (492)

Sorbitan triglyceride

Stearalkonium bentonite

Stearalkonium chloride

Stearalkonium hectorite

Stearamide MEA

Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine






Stearic acid

Stearic acid or fatty acid (570)

Stearoyl sarcosine

Stearyl alcohol

Stearyl dimethicone

Stearyl heptanoate

Stearyl Stearoyl Stearate

Stearyl tartarate

Stearyltrimethylammonium Chloride

Stearoyl lactic acid

Stearoyl Sarcosine

Steartrimonium chloride

Succinylated monoglycerides

Sucrose esters of fatty acids

Sucrose stearate

Sucroseesters of fatty acids

Sulphonated Methyl Esters

Surfactant CCG


TEA-lauryl sulphate


Tetradecyloctadecyl Myristate

TMP esters

Tocotrienols (Vitamin E)

Tocopherols (Vitamin E)

Tocopheryl linoleate


Triacetin (1518)



Tricaprylyl Citrate

Tridecyl Myristate

Trifluoroacetyl Tripeptide-2

Triisostearoyl polyglyceryl-3 dimer dilinoleate



Vegetable emulsifier

Vegetable glycerin

Vegetable Oil

Vitamin A palmitate

Vitamin C Ester

Yeast with 491

Zinc Myristate

Zinc stearate 

Palm oil: buy or boycott?