Palm-Free Is the Way to Be

Health foods brand Enjoy Life Foods is officially the first food company to become Certified Palm Oil Free by the International Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Programme (POFCAP). At less than 1 year old, POFCAP aims to set a new standard when it comes to holding companies to their promises to avoid unsustainable palm oil sources. The program currently operates in six countries, but its reach is widespread − a number of companies around the world have applied for certification for their products, with five companies, and 239 individual products, having achieved complete palm oil-free certification. Palm oil, a highly controversial oil, is the most common vegetable oil found in a variety of foodstuffs sold around the world. The majority of palm oil is actually produced by plantations in three nations: Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. However, the process of producing palm oil has become highly contentious in recent years because of the impact on the environment (from clearcutting and other forms of degradation) and the use of forced labor, including child labor. A number of food companies have taken measures to source from sustainable palm oil plantations and avoid those that engage in questionable practices. Enjoy Life Foods, however, is the first among such food companies to produce a line of items that would traditionally contain palm oil but do not, such as granola and protein products.

The Takeaway

Brands may want to make claims and tout certifications that their products have positive social, environmental or other attributes. Certifications − even third-party certifications − are advertising claims. Like all advertising claims, the brand must have sound substantiation for the express and implied claims that are made by use of a certification. Self-certifications are particularly suspect, but care also needs to be taken by companies participating in third-party certification programs.