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Why palm oil is 'bad', what products it is found in, and why it is used, as Iceland advert is banned; Iceland's banned advert highlighted the controversial use of palm oil, which is found in around half of products sold in supermarkets.

Byline: Simon Meechan

You've probably heard about Iceland's Christmas advert being'banned'for being 'too political' as it campaigns against the use of palm oil in food and toiletries.

The 90-second cartoon, which won't be shown on TV but has been uploaded to YouTube by the supermarket, depicts the destruction palm oil harvesting can cause to a baby orangutan'shabitat.

The clip has been streamed more than 3 million times from Iceland's YouTube account.

Iceland has pledged to remove palm oil from all of its own-brand food by the end of the year. Its mince pies are already palm oil free, and are even stocked in upmarket Selfridges stores.

So why is palm oil controversial, or bad?

Iceland Christmas advert 2018 BANNED: Watch the palm oil ad that will never be shown on TV

Palm oil is a vegetable fat extracted from palm trees, particularly the West African oil palm, a tree which was introduced to South-east Asia in the 19th century.

The oil is high in saturated fats, but low in trans fats.Healthconcerns over trans fats' links to high levels of cholesterol have led to increased demand for palm oil, especially after the American Government's FDA moved to ban trans fats in food.

Saturated fats are also linked to higher cholesterol, although they are not deemed to be as unhealthy as trans fats. Still, the NHS says anyone looking to lower their cholesterol levels should consider avoiding palm oil.

Around 50% of products sold insupermarketscontain some palm oil, according to the Sustainability Policy Transparency Toolkit website.

They include food, like chocolate, pizza dough and instant noodles.

Nutella is a product which is well-known for relying on palm oil. Its manufacturer Ferrero says palm oil is necessary for the spread's texture, shelf life and flavour, as the oil is tasteless and odourless.

However, it is not just food palm oil is found in. Cosmetics, toiletries and cleaning products also contain palm oil.

Palm oil is used in lipstick, as it has a neutral taste, holds colour and has a high melting point. In shampoo, palm oil is used as a conditioning agent.

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There are many who believe palm oil can potentially be more economical and sustainable than alternatives such as vegetable oil.

The Zoological Society of London says:

Increased demand for palm oil has led to deforestation in south-East Asia. The loss of these forests contributes to a destruction of animal habitats and can lead to rising greenhouse gas levels, which cause climate change (AKA, global warming).

Indonesia's forests are being decimated at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world, according to Palm Oil Investigations.

In the likes of Borneo and Sumatra, orangutangs are being driven from their habitat as rain forests are cleared for palm oil plantations. The cheapest way to clear the land is to 'slash and burn' - meaning to set fire to the forest - which destroys the orangutangs' habitat.

The population of orangutangs in Borneo has dropped by 80% in 75 years, according to a report in the Current Biology journal.

In Forrero's case, the manufacturer says it is committed to more sustainable methods of palm oil production.


A screenshot from the banned Iceland advert
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Title Annotation:What's On
Publication:The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)
Geographic Code:4EXIC
Date:Nov 12, 2018
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