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In Belgium, two isolated companies continue to label their products with the discriminatory and illegal claim ‘No Palm Oil’, which is at once superfluous and derogatory.

But supermarket retailer Delhaize and chocolate maker Galler have come under increasing pressure in recent months from legal experts, governments, and the European Union.

The problems for the two companies began in December 2014 when the EU’s Food Information to Consumers (FIC) Regulation entered into force. It mandates transparent origin labelling for all vegetable oils including palm oil. This non-discriminatory and transparent rule renders the Delhaize/Galler labels unnecessary.

The ‘No Palm Oil’ label does not provide any additional information to the consumer and does not provide more transparency either. The fact that the label continues to exist illustrates that the companies are not interested in helping consumers: they are simply pursuing a discriminatory campaign against palm oil.

Action long overdue

Experts at the international law firm Hogan Lovells have confirmed this view, stating in a report that the label is illegal under the FIC Regulation and under other EU laws including:

  • Directive on Food Labelling (Directive 2000/13/EC)
  • Health and Nutrition Claims Regulation (Regulation 1924/2006)
  • Advertising Directive (Directive 2006/114/EC)
  • Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (Directive 2005/29/EC)

Authorities in other European countries have accepted this fact. The body overseeing food labelling in France – the Directorate against Fraud – has admitted publicly that the label is likely illegal.

The EU has also accepted this reality. Its Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, has noted that the label is ‘obsolete’, thanks to the FIC Regulation.

It is time for Delhaize and Galler to remove the illegal and discriminatory label from their products. The Belgian government has supported Malaysian palm oil, describing the industry correctly as ‘sustainable’. As such, it is time for the ‘No Palm Oil’ label to go.

MPOC

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