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Wellington Zoo puts pressure on to unmask palm oil

22 June 2015

Wellington Zoo puts pressure on to unmask palm oil

Wellington Zoo will deliver thousands of postcards to Food Safety Minister Hon Jo Goodhew asking government representatives in New Zealand and Australia to demand clear labelling of vegetable oils on all food products through the Unmask Palm Oil campaign.

Wellington Zoo collected signatures from our community between April to June, with overwhelming support from our visitors to urge Minister Goodhew to support clear labelling at the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation.

However, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has been delayed writing the report necessary for the vote on mandatory labelling. This means the vote will likely be delayed until 2016.

“It’s frustrating to see that the vote delayed, and we are committed to seeing clear labelling of vegetable oils on food products for the long run,” said Daniela Biaggio, Wellington Zoo’s Conservation Manager.

“We believe it should be easy for people to choose what’s in their food and where it comes from,” said Biaggio. “The wild homes of critically endangered species, like Sumatran Tigers, are at risk from deforestation. Large areas of their habitat are cleared to make way for large palm oil plantations. This has been happening in South East Asia and is now also occurring in Africa. ”

Boycotting palm oil is not a solution, since increasing demand on alternatives is likely to cause even worse deforestation.

“Along with Unmask Palm Oil, we support the use of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). CSPO audit palm oil plantations and their supply chain to make sure they meet the highest environmental, social and economic standards as set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.”

Palm oil is estimated to be in about half of all products available in supermarkets, but most are labelled as ‘vegetable oil’. Mandatory labelling will allow consumers to make informed choices about the products they buy.

“At the moment, consumers who want to switch from products using conventional palm oil in order to demand CSPO products will find it is nearly impossible to make this simple ethical choice, as Australasian laws do not demand mandatory labelling,” Biaggio explained. “We’ve shared the aims of Unmask Palm Oil with our visitors, and they’ve signed nearly 3,500 postcards calling for our government to support the vote for mandatory labelling of palm oil products.”

Mandatory labelling will help consumers to choose sustainable palm oil – and, in turn, help Sumatran Tigers and countless other animals that rely on these wild habitats to survive.

About Wellington Zoo
Wellington Zoo is New Zealand's first Zoo, established in 1906, and is Wellington’s oldest conservation organisation. Home to over 500 native and exotic animals, Wellington Zoo became a charitable trust in 2003.

Wellington Zoo became the world’s first carboNZero certified zoo in May 2013.

ends

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