The equivalent of 300 soccer fields were deforested every hour for oil palm plantations in South-East Asia alone, killing more than 1000 orang-utans each year, independent senator Nick Xenophon says.
Senator Xenophon has introduced legislation to Parliament that would make it compulsory for manufacturers to list palm oil as a specific ingredient if it has been used in their food, or to make the food.
The average Australian consumes about 10 kilograms of palm oil every year without even knowing it, Senator Xenophon said.
Food labelling laws allow palm oil to be listed as "vegetable oil" on packaging even though it is a fruit, and is high in saturated fat, which increases the risk of heart disease, he said.
The bill would also allow manufacturers who use certified sustainable palm oil to list "CS Palm Oil" as an ingredient in order to show consumers they source their product from sustainable plantations.
The bill would encourage the adoption of sustainable practices, and give consumers the information they need to make an informed choice, he said.
Debate on the Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling - Palm Oil) Bill 2010 was adjourned.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald