THE spreading of “No Palm Oil” or “Palm Oil Free” campaign, first in Europe and now in Singapore, is potentially damaging for Malaysia, said National Association of Smallholders (Nash) of Malaysia.
“It has come to this part of the world,’’ Nash secretary-general Zulkifli Mohd Nazim said, showing Business Times photographs of infant milk cans taken at a supermarket in Singapore with highly visible “Palm Oil Free’’ signages on them.
He said the public is being misled into believing that saturated fats in palm oil are bad when in reality they are necessary in a balanced diet.
Since December 13, the European Union Food Information for Consumers Regulation mandates specification of vegetable oils (i.e. palm, rapeseed, sunflower, soya) on the ingredient list. But food firms had also inserted “No Palm Oil” on the labels, which falsely insinuates palm oil is bad that has to be avoided.
In Europe, these discriminatory labels are being promoted by chocolate maker Galler and supermarket chain Delhaize.
“Since there is no scientific proof that palm oil is bad for health, it is wrong for food manufacturers to go on using the ‘No Palm Oil’ labels,” Zulkifli said.
“These false allegations about palm nutrition must stop. Such acts harm our farmers’ livelihoods. We must be more effective in broadcasting the fact that palm oil does not contain any artificial trans-fats and the planting of oil palms helps poverty alleviation,” he said.
Earlier last week, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Muhamad Hanadzlah announced that the government is forming the National Export Council (NEC) to be chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. The NEC’s main task is to improve the country’s export chain, logistics and output.
Zulkifli said tackling the smear campaign on oil palm is one of the ways to improve the country’s exports.
“The oil palm is Malaysia’s economic security crop,” he said, in reference to the country’s annual US$20 billion (RM69.8 billion) palm oil exports which support some two million jobs and livelihoods along the sprawling value chain.
Indeed, Malaysia’s small farmers are a robust and diverse group. They are an integral part of the country’s cultural identity and their produce contributes significantly to the economy.
Last year, Malaysia shipped out RM61.36 billion worth of palm oil to more than 150 countries.