Is it right for a biscuit to cost that much?

The rainforest is being burnt to make way for palm oil plantations – to produce oil that ends up in hundreds of products that we eat every day

Is it right for a biscuit to cost this much?

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If we chose which environmental issues to tackle based on the severity of the problem and the feasibility (including on a personal level) of the solution, the environmental impact of palm oil plantations would win hands down.

Not even Beijing suffers as much as Singapore when neighbouring countries burn the tropical forests to make way for plantations.

Not all palm oil has the same environmental impact. A small part of it comes from plantations with sustainability certification issued by the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil, an organisation formed in 2004 by the international WWF together with a series of producers and other stakeholders, including big companies like Nestlè and Barilla. The WWF describes it like this, but Greenpeace has doubts about the real sustainability of even this oil.

In some countries, lists of commercial products containing palm oil have been produced. We haven’t found any similar lists for Italy, but there are producers who have decided to stop using it. In any case, as from 14 October 2014, the type of oil or fat used will have to be specified on the labels of food products.

Until a few years ago, palm oil was also suspected of contributing to the development of cardiovascular illnesses, a charge of which it has now been cleared. Paradoxically, this could lead to a major new increase in its production as it is expected to replace hydrogenated fats (that are certainly bad for you) in the preparation of a huge number of packaged foods.

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