25 Sneaky Names for Palm Oil and Why to Avoid It

Palm oil is destroying rainforests and threatening extinction of orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants

Every hour 300 football fields of rainforest are cleared to make way for palm oil plantations.

Grown in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, North and South America, 85 percent of palm oil production happens in Indonesia and Malaysia, where a third of all mammals are on the verge of extinction thanks to deforestation.

Palm oil accounts for 30% of the world’s vegetable oil and is found in 40 to 50% of household products in developed countries, including baked goods, confectionery, shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning agents, washing detergents and toothpaste.

Global production of palm oil has doubled over the last 10 years and is expected to double again by 2050.

The industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses.

The clearing of critical rainforest ecosystems to make way for monoculture palm plantations threatens orangutan extinction within 5-10 years, and Sumatran tigers in less than 3 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The orangutan is a keystone species that plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem. For example, many rainforest seeds can only germinate once passed through their guts.

As palm oil gains a bad reputation, manufacturers are labeling the ingredient under many names. Here’s a list provided by the WWF:

1. Elaeis guineensis
2. Etyl palmitate
3. Glyceryl
4. Hydrogenated palm glycerides
5. Octyl palmitate
6. Palm fruit oil
7. Palm kernel
8. Palm kernel oil
9. Palm stearine
10. Palmate
11. Palmitate
12. Palmitic acid
13. Palmitoyl oxostearamide
14. Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3
15. Palmityl alcohol
16. Palmolein
17. Sodium kernelate
18. Sodium laureth sulfate
19. Sodium lauryl lactylate/sulphate
20. Sodium lauryl sulfate
21. Sodium palm kernelate
22. Stearate
23. Stearic acid
24. Vegetable fat
25. Vegetable oil

For more sustainable palm oil, you can look for the labels:  “RSPO” or ” Rainforest Alliance.” The next best label is “Green Palm,” which indicates palm production transition to more sustainable methods.





4 responses to “25 Sneaky Names for Palm Oil and Why to Avoid It”

  1. Shantam Judy Avatar
    Shantam Judy

    Thank you Sara Burrows for this extensive list and Shanti for posting it on facebook! I’ve passed it on to others who will pass it on.

  2. Margaret Wasserfall Avatar
    Margaret Wasserfall

    Thank you for the list of palm oil pseuddonyms. Very useful. I fully support the fight against palm oil and avoid it at all costs.

  3. Angelina Avatar

    I usually agree and share as well as avoid buying anything palm related but this article is wholly incorrect on the list of names they use and can use as ingredients.

    Please take this article with a pinch of salt as as 70% of ingredients from that list don’t belong there at all and would be fake to be on the ingredients list.

    Let me bring your eye to I think number 4 Glycerol…this is a well known Glycerine which is sugar…in scientific labelling this term can only be used from cane derived or vegetable sugar there it only belongs to this family scientific label. Palm oil is a tree and therefore does not belong to glycerin or glycerol.

    It’s like buying a sandwich and the ingredients would be all made up. That cannot happen due to people’s allergens but they could perhaps hide but in most likely case use a non standard name as per the list which has some sort of mention of palm so that the usual consumer will be too confused or not notice or know that’s what they’ve done but you just look out for the slightly changed name in the list.

    Another example I know well : stearic acid I see a lot, it’s an acid therefore it has F*#% all to do with palm. This article makes me really angry because it’s simply there to misinform, shock, confuse and now loads of people will be not buying anything to do with Glycerine (SUGAR) which is basically everything. This a shit scaremongering misinforming and there to confuse people article, not helpful from them.

    Sadly or surprisingly it had no comment section on they web so that people can leave their review for they crap article.

  4. Robert Breining Avatar
    Robert Breining

    Palm oil sucks!!!