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

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

They have recently removed all palm oil from the vast majority of their own brand products and taken a real lead on this issue. 

Read more about Iceland and palm oil.

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

They have recently removed all palm oil from the vast majority of their own brand products and taken a real lead on this issue. 

Read more about Iceland and palm oil.

 

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
APG
Arachamide mea
Ascorbyl palmitate (304)
Ascorbyl stearate
Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate (vitamin C)
Azelaic acid
Beta Carotene
Behentrimonium Methosulfate
BTMS
Butyl Myristate
Butyl stearate
Calcium lactylate
Calcium Myristate
Calcium oleyl lactylate
Calcium stearate
Calcium stearoyl lactylate
CAPB
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
Ceteth-20
Ceteth-24
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-Caprylate
Coco-Caprylate/Caprate
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
Dodecanol
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)
Esterquats
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
Ethylhexylglycerin
Ethylhexyl hydroxystearate
Ethylhexyl Isononanoate
Ethylhexyl Myristate
Ethylhexyl Palminate
Ethylhexyl palmitate
Ethylhexyl stearate
Ethylhexylglycerin
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
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
Hexadecylic
Hexyl laurate
Hexyldecanol
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
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
Monopalmitate
Myreth 3 Myrisrate
Myristate
Myristic acid
Myristic Cetrimonium Chloride Acid
Myristoyl
Myristyl myristate
Myristoyl Sarcosine
Myristoyl Sarcosinate
Myristyl alcohol
Myristyl myristate
N-Butyl Esters
Nonionic surfactant
Octadecanoic acid
Octyl palmitate
Octyl stearate
Octyldodecanol
Octyldodecyl myristate
Octydodecyl stearate
Octyldodecyl stearoyl stearate
Oleamide MIPA
Oleic acid
Oleyl betaine
Oleyl Myristate
Oleoyl Sarcosine
Olivem 1000
Oliv-emulse
Oliv-wax LQC
OPKO – Organic Palm Kernel Oil
Palmester
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
Palmate
Palmitate
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
Palmolein
Palmfonate
Palmosalt
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)
Polyglycerate-60
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
Polysorbate-20
Polysorbate-40
Polysorbate-60
Polysorbate-65
Polysorbate-80
Polysorbate-85
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
Sleareth
SLES
SLS
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
Steareth-2
Steareth-7
Steareth-10
Steareth-20
Steareth-21
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
Taxanomic
TEA-lauryl sulphate
TEA-stearate
Tetradecyloctadecyl Myristate
TMP esters
Tocotrienols (Vitamin E)
Tocopherols (Vitamin E)
Tocopheryl linoleate
Triacetin
Triacetin (1518)
Tribehenin
Tricaprylin
Tricaprylyl Citrate
Tridecyl Myristate
Trifluoroacetyl Tripeptide-2
Triisostearoyl polyglyceryl-3 dimer dilinoleate
Tristearin
Veg-emulse
Vegetable emulsifier
Vegetable glycerin
Vegetable Oil
Vitamin A palmitate
Vitamin C Ester
Yeast with 491
Zinc Myristate
Zinc stearate 

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