Palm oil labelling

Find out the labelling requirements for palm oil and about a review of the labelling of fats and oils.


Requirements for palm oil labelling

Food labelling standards for New Zealand are regulated under the joint Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code). The Code is developed and maintained by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

Currently, if palm oil is sold as a single food (for example, a bottle of palm oil), the Code requires that 'a name or a description of the food sufficient to indicate the true nature of the food' is included on its label.

If palm oil is an ingredient in the food, it can be labelled in the ingredient list as 'vegetable oil' or it can be specifically identified as 'palm oil'. The use of the generic term 'vegetable oil' means manufacturers don't need to change labels every time the source of the oil changes.

Peanut, lupin or sesame oils (and unrefined soybean oil) must be declared by their specific name in ingredient lists due to their allergenic nature. Also, if palm oil is used in dairy products (including ice cream), it must be labelled as palm oil in the ingredient list.

Nutrition information

Palm oil is high in saturated fat, a nutrient that New Zealanders are encouraged to limit in their diet. The total amount of saturated fat in a food, which may include saturated fat from palm oil, is stated in the nutrition information panel.

Consumer value information

Information about ingredients or foods relating to consumer values, such as palm oil labelling to address environmental concerns, can be voluntarily provided by industry on food labels. For example, manufacturers may declare:

  • they use sustainably sourced palm oil
  • membership of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
  • the absence of certain ingredients.

All such statements in New Zealand must comply with the Fair Trading Act of 1986 and must not mislead consumers or give false information.

Labelling review

A review of the labelling of fats and oils is currently being undertaken in Australia and New Zealand. This review aims to enable consumers to make informed choices consistent with dietary guidelines.

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