Nash: Belgium’s label against palm oil illegal

Nash: Belgium’s label against palm oil illegal

KUALA LUMPUR: National Association of Smallholders (Nash), which represents thousands of small farmers in Malaysia, has slammed Belgium for its illegal and defamatory “No Palm Oil” labelling on packaged foods and beverages, which is hurting oil palm planters’ livelihoods.

“We strongly reject Belgium’s illegal campaign against palm oil. We urge the Belgian government to issue a directive to stop the usage of this defamatory and illegal ‘No Palm Oil’ labels on their packaged foodstuff and in their stores,” said Nash secretary-general Zulkifli Mohd Nazim.

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders, who was in Malaysia last week, reportedly said the palm oil industry has sustainable practices, with good social conditions for workers, along with hospitals and schools for children in the rural areas.

“Reynders acknowledged the palm oil industry is operating sustainably, yet he remained silent on the illegality of the ‘No Palm Oil’ labels. It is disappointing … he is not walking his talk,” said Zulkifli.

From December 13 onwards, the new European Union (EU) Food Information for Consumers Regulation (FIC) requires palm oil to be listed as an ingredient.

“We acknowledge this FIC regulation, but we reject the ‘No Palm Oil’ defamatory connotation in front-of-pack labels,” said Zulkifli.

“Given the lack of scientific evidence that palm oil consumption is bad for health, it is wrong for food manufacturers to go on using the ‘No Palm Oil’ labels. The Belgian government is conflating the illegal labels with the FIC regulation,” he said.

These discriminatory labels, which is promoted by chocolate maker Galler and supermarket chain Delhaize, is harming the livelihoods of oil palm farmers across Malaysia, Indonesia and Africa, he said.

Zulkifli noted the validity of the “No Palm Oil” label can be challenged under the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (French Consumer Code Articles L-121-1- to L121-7) because this misleading labelling creates mistrust in the minds of consumers, and therefore, unfair to commercial practice.

“Scientists in France and across the world acknowledge that palm oil is a healthy part of a balanced diet, with its many nutritional attributes. Palm oil is all natural and does not contain any harmful trans fats,” he said.

Source : New Straits Times

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