Products, ads with ‘no palm oil’ labels violate law, says council

Malaysian law prohibits discrimination against palm oil products as the commodity contributes greatly to the local economy, says the Malaysian Palm Oil Council. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, June 19, 2023.

THE Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) has strongly urged retailers to remove all products and advertising materials that bear discriminatory logos against palm oil.

Those who do not comply could face a hefty RM250,000 fine or jail time not exceeding five years, it said in a statement today.

It said section 69 of the Trade Description Act 2011 prohibits anyone in the course of any business or trade, or in any advertisement, to use any statement, expression, or indication that discriminates against or boycotts palm oil products. The regulations came into effect in March last year and will now be fully enforced.

“Retail outlets that display and sell products labelled ‘No Palm Oil’ (NPO) will face penalties if found guilty by enforcement officers of the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry.

“In a survey conducted by MPOC, it was found that 80 outlets in the Klang Valley sell these products, with a concentration in high-end areas of the region.

“Letters have been sent to eight holding companies of the 80 outlets to draw their attention and urge them to take immediate action to comply with the regulations,” it said.

“The NPO label … may appear as ‘Palm Oil Free’, ‘Without Palm Oil’, ‘No Palm Fat’, ‘Never Palm Oil’, and others, in English or in foreign languages,” it said.

The same survey found that NPO labels may also be displayed on products and advertisements as distinct logos depicting orangutans or slashed-through palm oil bunches.

MPOC chief executive officer Belvinder Sron said palm oil is the number one national commodity and plays a significant role in our economy, so it should be protected.

She said palm oil is a versatile and widely used ingredient across various industries, including the food, oleochemicals, and biofuel sectors.

“While it is important to encourage sustainable and responsible practices within the palm oil industry, it is equally crucial to avoid creating a prejudiced narrative against this commodity as a whole.

“If all anti-palm oil efforts in the country are not addressed, palm oil-based products will continue to be denigrated and boycotted in the world market,” she said. – Bernama, June 19, 2023.

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