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The dangerous ingredient you’re eating—and don’t even know it

By Gretel H. Schueller, December 7, 2012 - 11:12am

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Gretel asks: Do you avoid foods because they contain palm oil? Which ones?


I try to avoid any food containing palm oil but it is becoming virtually impossible. My husband bought expensive artisan sausages from our local producer who sells at the farmer's market. I checked the ingredients only to find palm oil is included! I shall be asking him about this next time he is at the market.


10/03/2015 - 7:17am

I think there is a lot of misguided information here. Do some research before jumping on the bandwagon I'd say. Firstly, fractionated does NOT mean trans fat. On the contrary, when the fat is fractionated, it means that there is very low amounts of trans fat in it. Hydrogenated on the other hand does translate to high amounts of trans fat and should be avoided. Secondly, one can attempt to boycott palm oil products entirely if that is even possible, but seriously now, what are you going to replace it with? Soybean oil? Did you know that for the same amount of oil produced from 1 hectare of palm oil plantation you would need approximately 10 hectares for soybean? Lets see, boycott palm oil because of the destruction of the Borneo Rainforest and support 10 times the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil? You do the maths. Want to truly save the planet? You should instead challenge yourself to avoid almost all vegetable oils instead of specifically demonising palm oil. Thirdly, it is true that large swathes of the Borneo Rainforest has been cleared - but the truth is that these swathes have been cleared for timber logging long before palm oil plantations sprouted in Borneo - and as unfortunate as that is, the plantations mostly came after that to put cleared forest lands to productive use, feeding thousands of otherwise jobless and destitute locals. In fact, did you know that in Malaysia Borneo, the rate of reforestration is exceeding the rate of deforestration?


02/15/2015 - 2:48am

YES, I avoid all foods that contain palm oil! I am disgusted by the fact that even though 80% of the rain forest of Borneo has been cut down to make the notorious oil palm plantations, it is still in 50% of ALL PACKAGED GOODS! At the current rate of destruction, all of the rain forest will be COMPLETELY GONE in ONE DECADE!!! DO THE WORLD A FAVOR AND CUT PALM OIL OUT OF YOUR LIFE!!!

- 2 years without palm oil, 12 years


12/20/2014 - 2:08pm

Hell, is there any such thing as bread without palm oil in it? I checked about 12 different brands at the local supermarket and they all contain this hideous ingredient.


10/26/2014 - 6:37pm

To find this out, makes me mad that I didn't know this, and all along I have been eating "100% natural" peanut butter. Not in large amounts, but today I saw the "fractioned palm oil" in the list of ingredients, and was curious whether it was hiding something. And it turns out it was. PETERPAN BRAND SUCKS!


08/11/2014 - 5:22pm

Research is confirming the Saturated fats are to be included in a heart healthy diet. All that avoiding saturated fats b./c of the link to heart disease is bad science. Look to Dr. Stephan Sinantra or Mary Enig for the latest news on fats. Good news is they took out the trans fats. What would you put in its place?


06/11/2014 - 6:38pm

Gretel, thank you for this article. Just happened to look at the list of ingredients on my so-called "health food bar" and noticed it had fractionated palm kernel oil. Got to thinking, what the heck is that and why does it have the fractionated before it? Needless to say, I'm very disappointed that a bar touting itself as healthy would have this in it.


05/28/2014 - 12:50pm

yes! i have recently discovered by process of elimination that foods with palm oil in really irritate my stomach, causing cramps and pain for a few hours even after one bite of a cookie. i was shocked to discover just how many foods there are that contain palm oil. most of what i have read suggests intolerance is not that common but after discovering that even polos now irritate me it turns out that they have something called'stearates' in them and they can be derived from palm oil too.


03/26/2014 - 2:00pm

Almost everything. Popcorn, chocolate bars, gravy mix, you name it. It's in many foods.


03/17/2014 - 9:58pm

Packaged foods


03/14/2014 - 11:04pm

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