Fat is an essential part of the diet and is important for good health, however there are different types of fats, and some are healthier than others. Saturated fat found in butter, cream, fatty cuts of meat and oils including coconut and palm oil have been under the spotlight when it comes to cardiovascular health. Many health governing bodies including Dietitians Australia have recommended that all Australians reduce the amount of saturated fat they consume and replace with healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Palm oil contains about 50% saturated fat which is high compared to other oils however not as high as coconut oil which comes in at around 90%.
Economically and technically, palm oil is a very useful oil in food production, however in using it there is a much higher price to pay both health wise and environmentally!
Palm oil is extracted from the oil palm tree native originally to Africa. It was brought to South-East Asia around 100 years ago as an ornamental tree crop and now two countries, Indonesia and Malaysia make up around 90% of global supply with around 40 other countries producing palm oil.
Palm oil production has been rapidly expanding and this has been at the expense of deforestation, habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity. The controversy surrounding the production of palm oil is associated with less environmental regulation in these countries which has led to indiscriminate forest clearing for oil palm crops, instances of illegal logging and a dramatic impact on threatened and endangered local species, including the almost extinct Sumatran orangutans, whose habitat is prime logging area.
Many companies have responded to consumer pressure by either altering their practice of using palm oil as an ingredient or sourcing palm oil from sustainable resources. Consumers will be pleased to know that all Farmers Beta A2 products are palm oil free.