You may be wondering why palm oil is bad. What’s the problem with palm oil? Why are people upset about it?
Where there were once lush rainforests, now there are palm oil plantations. Deforestation is the reason palm oil is a global concern. Companies use it in thousands of products. Palm oil is in everything from food coloring and cereal to desserts, shampoo and household cleaners.
Palm oil has been getting a lot of attention. You may be hearing about palm oil and wonder why it’s an issue.
Demand for palm oil continues to increase, inciting tremendous deforestation. When developers burn rainforests to make way for palm oil plantations, those rainforests are gone forever.
Think about the biodiversity in a rainforest. In Borneo, an island in Asia, scientists found over 15,000 plant species in the tropical rainforests. They are still discovering more.
Tropical rainforests contain 50% of the world’s plants and animals.
According to worldwildlife.org, the rainforests in Borneo and Sumatra are home to thousands of unique species. Among these are the world’s LAST-REMAINING Sumatran Rhinos, Sumatran Tigers, Borneo pygmy elephants, and orangutans.
In addition, the rainforests in Borneo and Sumatra are the ONLY PLACES ON EARTH all of these animals live together.
According to the Orangutan Foundation, in the 25 years between 1990 and 2015, 67.9 million acres were deforested in Indonesia.
What about the people?
Indigenous people and others live on these islands as well, and have for generations. Like the animals displaced by the plantations, they are affected.
Why do we need rainforests?
The entire world depends on rainforests to produce oxygen and to clean the atmosphere.
Yet, these rainforests and their diverse ecosystems are being cleared — destroyed forever — to grow more palm oil.
Every hour, 6,000 acres are cleared. That’s the equivalent of 4,000 football fields — per hour!
Everything that once thrived in the rainforest is gone.
The animals are driven from their homes. If they escape the fires, where do they go? Their habitats are destroyed.
Even more, then pollution becomes an issue. There are high levels of carbon dioxide and black carbon in the air from the fires.
Why is palm oil in demand
Palm oil is common in many products for a variety of reasons. It’s a prized, multi-functional ingredient.
From a palm oil plantation owner’s perspective:
Money. Palm oil is a productive crop. Plantation owners can grow more palm oil per hectare than other oils. It grows quickly.
Also appealing is it requires minimal costs to grow compared to other commodities. Palm oil doesn’t require as many fertilizers or pesticides like other crops.
From a food manufacturer’s perspective:
Money and versatility. Palm oil is typically less expensive than palm oil alternatives. In addition, it’s a very versatile oil that can be added to dozens of different foods.
Remember, there are hundreds of names for palm oil derivatives. Each of those is able to do something different.
Some of the reasons food manufacturers use palm oil include:
Preserving, adding to the shelf life
Keeping foods crunchy
Making foods chewy
To increase volume
Creating mouth feel
Palm oil remains stable at room temperature
FDA banned trans fats in 2018
In the United States, food manufacturers are no longer able to use trans fats and trans fatty acids in foods. This regulation forced companies to find replacement ingredients. Many of them turned to palm oil.
Because of this, many packaged and processed foods that once were palm oil free now contain palm oil. Think about desserts and confections in your grocery store. Cakes, cookies, scones, biscuits all contain palm oil ingredients now.
Why self-care product companies use palm oil:
Because palm oil has so many applications, palm oil is very common in bar soap, liquid soap, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, lotion and moisturizer, toothpaste, cosmetics and more.
Remember, palm oil is versatile — it can do many things in all types of products — and it’s inexpensive.
There are scores of ways companies have learned to manipulate palm oil to do different things in all types of products. And because it’s inexpensive to use, companies continue to use palm oil in their products.
Some of the reasons palm oil is in hygiene and cosmetics is to:
Manufacturers also use palm oil in most all cleaning products. This includes cleaners and detergents that use “plant-based” and “plant-derived” ingredients. Many products advertise they are “free and clear” and environmentally friendly despite using unsustainable palm oil.
Demand for palm oil is also increasing for bio-fuel and many other products.
What’s the problem with palm oil?
Problem with unsustainable palm oil
Much of the problem is due to the lack of regulation. While there are sustainable palm oil options, they are difficult to regulate. It’s also difficult to know for sure palm oil is sustainable.
There are problems with what’s considered sustainable.
In addition, there aren’t clear rules for labeling palm oil on ingredient labels. “Vegetable oil” on a label doesn’t explain if there is palm oil in the product.
In addition, with hundreds of names for palm oil derivatives, the everyday consumer doesn’t know that ingredient names such as Glycerin, Mono- & Diglycerides, and Sodium Palmate are often hidden names for palm oil.
As the ongoing demand for palm oil increases, developers continue to clear and burn rainforests in Malaysia, Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia with no end in sight.
Many organizations and foundations are working hard to educate and create awareness about the problems with unsustainable palm oil. There are many animals on the verge of being extinct.
There are two organizations who work to verify products are palm oil free. Products can earn Palm Oil Free labeling much like products that use Vegan labeling or Cruelty-Free labels.
Food and non-food companies can apply for their entire brand’s portfolio of products or for individual products.
International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark Programme (POFCAP)
This is an independent, not-for-profit certified trademark program based in Australia.
To date, the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark Programme is qualified to certify products as palm oil free in 19 countries, including the United States. Other countries include England, Spain, Norway, France, Australia, Belguim, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
This means that their palm oil free label is approved, valid and recognized in these countries. Learn more here.
You can go to POFCAP’s website to learn more and to see the list of hundreds of names for palm oil ingredients.
Some companies which have certified their products through POFCAP include: Loom Designs, MSM Milling, OmMade Organic Skincare, Red Ape Cinnamon, Wild Friends Foods, and more. In addition, you can see the products they have certified palm oil free.
This is an independent, non-profit organization and registered charity based in Australia. Orangutan Alliance promotes reducing non-sustainable palm oil in consumer products.
Some of the companies and brands which have products certified palm oil free include: Nuttiva Hazelnut Spread, Hawkers Snacks, The Protein Ball Co., Ethique, Viva la Body, and more. Learn more here.
What can you do about palm oil
Become an Educated Consumer. Read labels. Buy products with less ingredients. Avoid products with “palm” in the ingredient labels. Learn about which companies are truly using sustainable palm oil.
The increasing demand for palm oil is taking a toll on the environment.
Among many environmental concerns, large-scale deforestation continues to destroy wildlife’s habitats. Better-known examples include orangutans and Sumatra tigers which experts predict will be extinct from the wild in the upcoming years.
From an environmental standpoint, palm oil is a huge concern. Palm oil plantations are replacing rainforests at an alarming rate. The implications from this are far-reaching. Palm oil is a very productive crop. It’s inexpensive to grow, and owners can grow more of it per hectare than other oils.
Palm oil is common in lotions, creams and moisturizers because it’s inexpensive and versatile. Companies use it as a preservative. It also works as an emollient to soften the skin. Here’s a list of lotion without palm oil.
Read labels and choose lotions with the least amount of ingredients to lessen your chance of palm oil.
There are many ways companies disguise palm oil in self-care products.
Lotion without palm oil
Support these companies who make palm oil free lotions, creams and moisturizers. They are the exception in this industry.
Most of these brands also list all of their ingredients transparently on their websites.
Badger Balm Unscented: Contains just two ingredients: Organic extra virgin olive oil and organic beeswax.
Damascus Rose Beauty Balm
On their website, it’s easy to find the ingredients in each of Badger’s balms.
Booda Butter Daily Moisturizer
Spread the Love, 2.3 oz
Tub of Love, 8.4 oz
Booda Butter is available two sizes. It contains just five ingredients. All of them are Certified Organic & Unrefined. Ingredients: Fair Trade Shea Butter, Fair Trade Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, and Jojoba Oil.
Here is another company who lists their ingredients on their website. Also, they make all of their other products without palm oil and palm oil derivatives.
Freedom Soap Co.
Whipped Shea Butter
They make all of their bar soaps and other products without palm oil. You can find all of their ingredients easily on their website.
Also note, Freedom Soap Co. has taken extra steps to apply for and earn palm oil free certification. All of Freedom Soap Co.’s products are Orangutan Alliance Certified Palm Oil Free.
Breath with Eucalyptus & Mint
Chamomile with Hemp Seed Oil
Citrus with Hemp Seed Oil
Gnat Away Solid Lotion Stick
Groovy Wombat Lotion
Lilac & Lily
Muscle Relief Massage Butter
Pumpkin Spice with Hemp Seed Oil
Rainforest Lotion with Hemp Seed Oil
Sleep with Lavender and Cedar
Kilted Suds makes all of their lotions and and other products without palm oil.
They also list the ingredients for all of their products on their website. The owner confirmed the Tocopherols, Cetearyl Alcohol and Coco-Glucoside they use are not derived from palm oil. Instead, they use olive oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil.
Foot and Body Balm
Peppermint & Lavender
with Immune-Supportive Essential Oils
Their Peppermint & Lavender balm is handmade with six ingredients: Beeswax, Sunflower Oil, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Lavender Essential Oil, Peppermint Essential Oil.
It’s easy to find the ingredients for their lotions on their website.
Citrus Woods Organic
French Lavender Organic
Organic Lotion Bar
Thai Herbal Muscle Rub
Unearth Malee makes all of their self-care products, including these butters, lotions and balms, without palm oil.
Palm oil derivatives in lotion
Take a look at the ingredients in some moisturizers and lotions you already own. What’s in them?
While you likely won’t see “palm oil” listed in the ingredients, you will see palm oil derivatives such as:
Typically, there will be more than one palm oil ingredient in lotion, making them easy to find on labels.
Unless the company lists the source of an ingredient — as in Tocopherol (Sunflower) — you won’t know whether it’s made from palm oil unless you contact them. Palm oil derivatives are common in face creams, lotions, moisturizers, etc.
Palm oil common in all types of lotions
Whether you use an “all purpose” lotion or one specifically for eyes, hands, feet, body or face, there is likely palm oil in it. Body butters contain palm oil. Baby lotions and creams contain it. It’s common in foot cream, hand moisturizers and eye cream.
While scented lotions generally contain more ingredients, unscented lotions still contain palm oil derivatives.
Hypoallergenic lotions also contain palm oil.
The majority of the lotions you will find in grocery stores and stores such as Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, Target, Walmart, Trader Joes, Sprouts, Whole Foods, Costco, etc., will contain palm oil. Remember, palm oil has many uses and is a versatile product. It’s also very inexpensive for manufacturers to use.
The very best thing you can do is read labels. If the lotion has a long list of chemical names — many of them are above — you can be sure they aren’t palm oil free.
The only way to know for certain is to ask the company — ask them to check with their R&D department — specifically about each ingredient. Most customer service reps will not know the source of the ingredients.
Watch for “natural” lotions
Note, even in brands, labeling and packaging you may perceive to be “natural, healthy, and earth-friendly,” there may be palm oil ingredients. Companies who advertise them as vegan and cruelty-free can still contain palm oil.
In self-care products, marketers use buzzwords such as “Plant-Derived.” This may mean the creme or moisturizer contains palm oil.
Natural ingredients in lotions
You might also see labeling advertising the lotion is “Natural” or made using “Natural Ingredients.” This is another marketing tool. Palm oil is considered “natural.”
Palm oil free lotion
There are many reasons consumers seek out palm oil free moisturizers and lotions. Many avoid palm oil for the environmental implications. Others avoid it for health reasons.
Vote with your dollars and buy palm free lotion. Ask companies about their ingredients. Thank companies who are making lotions without palm oil.
Remember, when companies advertise lotions as non-allergenic, hypo-allergenic, natural, or plant-derived, these too can contain palm ingredients hidden under other names.
Do you know other palm oil free creams, lotions, and moisturizers? Please leave them in the Comments so we can all support these brands. Why do you seek out these types of products? Please let us know in the Comments.
It’s always a great time for ice cream! But did you know it often contains palm oil? Here’s a list of ice cream without palm oil.
Take a few seconds to read the ingredients; don’t just buy whatever ice cream is on sale.
Some ice cream brands use better quality ingredients than others. Palm oil is cheap; therefore, it’s widely used in store brands and other inexpensive brands.
Also, the more complicated the flavor, the more ingredients it likely has. When there are more ingredients, there is a greater chance it will have palm oil. Choose simple flavors.
We offer more tips below.
There is one brand that always makes palm oil free ice cream: Ben & Jerry’s. You can safely choose any of their amazing flavors. Scroll down for palm free flavors from other brands.
Ice cream without palm oil
Ben & Jerry’s
Whatever flavor you crave, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream has found a way to make it without palm oil and palm oil derivatives.
On their website, you have to search “palm oil” to find anything about it. And then it’s just their values sourcing page. We weren’t able to find any mention of “palm oil free” anywhere else. We hope Ben & Jerry’s will showcase this on their site as it’s very rare.
Here are most of their pint flavors. Please note, they have many more palm oil free ice creams, frozen yogurts and dairy free choices on their website.
Chocolate Fudge Brownie
Chocolate Shake It
Vanilla Toffee Bar Crunch
Cold Brew Caramel Latte
Ice Cream Sammie
It’s Ice… Cream
Red, White & Blueberry
Brownie Batter Core
Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core
Karamel Sutra Core
Peanut Butter Fudge Core
Salted Caramel Core
Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core
Peanut Buttah Cookie Core
Bob Marley’s One Love
Bourbon Pecan Pie
Brewed to Matter
Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake
Chillin’ the Roast
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch
Coffee, Coffee, BuzzBuzzBuzz
Everything But The…
Glampfire Trail Mix
Milk & Cookies
Mint Chocolate Cookie
New York Super Fudge Chunk
Oat of This Swirled
Peanut Butter Cup
Peanut Butter World
Red Velvet Cake
Salted Caramel Almond
The Tonight Dough
Triple Caramel Chunk
Vanilla Caramel Fudge
Researching ice cream brands
To learn about the way palm oil is used in ice cream, we went to four grocery stores. We looked at all of the ice cream brands with sizes greater than 473.17 milliliters (one pint). There were 18 brands.
We learned all of the store brands contained some type of palm oil ingredient and/or palm oil derivative. Buy name brand ice cream to better avoid palm oil.
Of those 18 brands, there were 282 flavors that didn’t repeat. We researched the labels from these 282 unique brand and flavor combinations.
(We didn’t include Ben & Jerry’s in the research because we knew they are palm oil free and because we researched ice cream containers larger than one pint.)
Palm oil free ice cream
These are the brands and flavors we found in our local stores that didn’t contain palm oil or palm oil derivatives on their labels. This list is meant to be a starting point. Know that ingredients and vendors change. This list isn’t guaranteed, especially when it comes to Natural Flavors.*
Note, we don’t list any store brands here. We researched five store brands, and all of their flavors contained palm oil in some form. Most contained two or more palm oil ingredients and/or derivatives.
These ice creams do not list palm oil ingredients or palm oil derivatives on their labels. We’ve made notes to exceptions where we reached out to them for additional information.
Cookies & Cream (It’s very rare to see a palm oil free cookies & cream ice cream.)
Peanut Butter Fudge
Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl
This is for Alden’s Organic Ice Cream in 1.42 liter / 1.5 quart size. A representative from Alden’s Organic confirmed these are palm oil free.
They are very transparent in that they list all of their ingredients for each of their products on their website.
When Alden’s Organic Ice Cream uses palm oil, it’s in the form of “palm kernel oil” and is clearly labeled. They don’t use palm oil derivatives such as monoglycerides.
Note: Their pint-sized Crushin On Cookies & Mint is palm oil free (which is also rare).
Blue Bell Creameries
Natural Vanilla Bean
Spiced Pumpkin Pecan
The Great Divide
Strawberry and Homemade Vanilla
Keylime Mango Tart
These Blue Bell flavors are in 1.89 liters (half gallon).
They don’t list any palm oil ingredients or derivatives on their ingredient labels.
From personal experience, my son has safely enjoyed Blue Bell’s Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream.
Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry
Mint Chocolate Chip
Note, Breyers makes four different Vanilla Flavors. They all pretty much look the same except for their name. Be sure to choose Breyers Natural Vanilla.
Their Natural Vanilla is the only one that doesn’t contain mono- and diglycerides. In addition, it contains just five ingredients.
These are their flavors in the 1.41 liter (1.5 quart) size. They list their ingredients on their website through SmartLabel.
Also note, from personal experience, my son has eaten these Breyers ice cream flavors safely, with no symptoms. We believe them to be fully palm oil free.
This is for Dreyer’s 1.41 liter (1.5 quart) containers.
Dreyers is transparent in listing their ingredients for their ice creams on their website. These were Dreyers ice cream flavors we found that didn’t list any type of palm oil ingredients or derivatives on their labels.
Lactaid (lactose free)
Mint Chocolate Chip
This is for Lactaid’s 946.35 milliliter / one quart size. They list all of their ingredients on their website. These three flavors didn’t have any questionable ingredients on their labels.
Straus Family Creamery Organic
Mint Chocolate Chip
Vanilla Chocolate Chip
We researched Straus Organic in their 946.35 milliliter / one quart size. They make “super premium” ice cream.
You can search on their website, and find they list the ingredients for all of their ice creams under “Nutritional Information” for each flavor and size. The information is very easy to find.
Like the others in our list, we found these Straus Organic flavors didn’t list any type of palm oil ingredients on their labels.
Mint Chocolate Chip
Buttered Maple Pancakes
Chocolate Peanut Butter
Coffee Almond Fudge
Oregon Hazelnut & Salted Caramel
Chocolate Peanut Butter
Malted Moo Shake
Vanilla Chocolate Chip
Caramel Butter Pecan
Oregon Dark Cherry
Coffee Almond Fudge
Chocolate Cherry Fudge
This is for Tillamook’s 1.66 liter size (1.75 quarts). When you click on one of Tillamook’s flavors, the ingredients as well as other information comes up easily.
These flavors do not list any of the palm oil ingredients and derivatives commonly found in ice cream. A representative from Tillamook confirmed these Tillamook ice cream flavors don’t contain palm oil.
Please note, this is their “All Natural” line of ice creams.
Vanilla Bean & Chocolate
Butter Almond & Chocolate
Belgian Style Chocolate
Mint Chocolate Chip
Chocolate Peanut Butter
This is for their 1.41 liter (1.5 quart) containers. You can see all of their flavors and ingredients easily online.
(Note, The Kroger Company sold Turkey Hill to Peak Rock Capital.)
Make sure to choose Turkey Hill’s All Natural line of ice cream. All of these flavors listed here do not have any palm oil derivatives or palm oil ingredients on their ingredient labels.
We emailed Turkey Hill about their other ice creams that contain monoglycerides, diglycerides and propylene glycol. The representative said they are not derived from palm oil, and that they are used as stabilizers in some of their products. However, we didn’t include them in this list.
Finding palm oil ingredients and derivatives in ice cream
When you look at ice cream ingredient labels, some names for palm oil will be easy to spot. They are the ones that contain the word “palm” in them. Some examples are Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Vitamin A Palmitate, and Palm Oil with TBHQ.
However, there are others that are considered “palm oil derivatives.” These are ingredients that are made using palm oil but don’t have the “palm” in the name. Unless you check with the manufacturer, you won’t know whether these contain palm oil.
Some examples of palm oil derivatives common in ice cream are Mono & Diglycerides, Monoglycerides, Propylene Glycol, and Polysorbate 80.
In the 282 ice creams we researched, there were a total of 20 different palm oil ingredients and derivatives listed in the ingredients:
Palm Kernel Oil
Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil
Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil
Mixed Tocopherols/Vitamin E
Mono & Diglycerides
Organic Palm Kernel Oil
Organic Palm Oil
Palm Kernel Oil with TBHQ
Palm Oil with Citric Acid
Palm Oil with TBHQ
Propylene Glycol Monoesters
Propylene Glycol Monostearate
Vitamin A Palmitate
Most common palm oil derivatives in ice cream
After researching ice cream containers (larger than one pint) at grocery stores, the most common palm oil derivatives are:
Mono & Diglycerides
Vitamin A Palmitate
Propylene Glycol Monostearate
Ice cream without palm oil
We continue to reach out to ice cream companies and hope to have more to add to this list. We hope ice cream companies will come to realize “Palm Oil Free” is a marketing advantage.
There is a difference between Ice Cream and Frozen Dessert
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has different requirements for Ice Cream versus Frozen Dessert.
Again, here’s where it’s important to read labels. We’ve found Frozen Dessert cartons near the big party tubs of ice cream. They typically contain palm oil.
Just as the FDA has different requirements for “chocolate” versus “chocolate flavored,” there are different requirements regarding ingredients in ice cream, frozen custard, frozen yogurt, and frozen dessert.
Learn more here to see what the FDA requires of manufacturers to call their product “ice cream.”
Email companies to ask about the source of their ingredients
We have been emailing ice cream companies to ask them the source of their ingredients.
Often, companies sidetrack the question by referring us to their ingredients pages. However, the ingredients usually don’t spell out the source — especially if they are made from palm oil.
As an example, the Polysorbate 80 would be listed but wouldn’t say whether it was made with palm oil. What is Polysorbate 80 made from? You have no way of knowing.
Overall, most of the time, we haven’t been getting exact answers to our specific questions. Often we receive “canned answers” as they must have rules when answering questions about palm oil.
Sometimes companies reply with a statement about how they use RSPO sustainable palm oil.
Other times, they say the ingredient is derived from “natural sources” or “vegetable oil.”
When we ask, “What type of vegetable oil,” or “Is this ingredient sourced from palm oil,” or “Does this ingredient contain any palm oil,” they often do not answer.
Even after sending them the specific UPC code and asking them specifically about the source of one or more ingredients — “Are the mono- and diglycerides derived from palm oil in this product?” — many companies still wouldn’t answer.
They respond saying the information is “proprietary.”
If a company doesn’t respond to our questions, we believe they are hiding something.
One exception is Kroger Family of Stores who answered all of our questions outright. See more information at the bottom of this post.
Palm oil in ice cream
Palm oil is used in ice cream for many reasons. It adds to the mouth feel and texture, making it smooth and creamy. Companies can use it as an emulsifier and a stabilizer.
Since the FDA banned trans-fats in the United States, companies needed to find alternate ingredients for ice cream and other foods.
How to find ice cream without palm oil
Avoid any ice cream that includes Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Vitamin A Palmitate, and anything with palm- in the name.
Then, once that becomes a habit, you can take it a step further and choose ice cream without Mono- and Diglycerides.
After that, you can choose products that don’t list Polysorbate 80 and Propylene Glycol.
Don’t buy big party pails.
Large grocery stores often sell a store brand ice cream bucket.
Remember, the ice cream is cheap for a reason. It includes palm oil in some form.
Big ice cream party pails may be appealing if you have a large family or are having a party. However, for a few dollars extra, you will make a big impact and have better quality ice cream by choosing a different container.
Shop sales in advance, and buy palm oil free instead.
Buy “name brand” ice cream.
Palm oil and/or palm oil derivatives were in every single carton of store brand ice cream we researched.
Again, store brands are meant to be less expensive than the name brand competitors. No name, generic brands use palm oil to keep their costs down.
Choose ice cream with less ingredients.
Some of these ice creams have as few as five ingredients. Others, those with palm oil, can have 10 – 15 or more.
With the exception of Ben & Jerry’s, more complicated flavors — cookie crumbles, candy add-ins, chunks, swirls, etc. — mean a greater likelihood of palm oil.
The cheaper the ice cream brand, the greater the chance of palm oil and palm oil derivatives.
Some name brand ice cream is less expensive than other brand names.
Why is one brand overall less expensive than the others? They most likely are using palm oil derivatives instead of higher quality, “real” ingredients.
Make sure you are buying “Ice Cream” and not “Frozen Dessert.”
Frozen dessert has less strict requirements about what it needs to contain, thereby increasing the likelihood of palm oil.
Stick with the brands and flavors you know are palm oil free.
Use this list to guide you to find ice cream without palm oil. Also remember that Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is palm free.
For certain, organic ice cream and organic packaged foods can contain palm oil. However, there is often less chance of them using palm oil derivatives.
Buy a simple palm oil free vanilla or chocolate and add in your mix-ins.
Watch for mono- and diglycerides in chocolate syrup.
Ice cream sprinkles and jimmies often contain hydrogenated palm kernel oil, palm oil, glycerin as well as other palm oil derivatives.
Ice cream cones and waffle bowls often contain vegetable oil shortening made with palm oil.
Make your own.
You can make your own ice cream at home for a fun family activity.
Another option is to slice and freeze bananas. If you have a Vitamix or other mixer, you can blend them with a teaspoon of vanilla and 100% cacao powder for sweet treat that has the consistency of ice cream.
Soft serve ice cream
Know that many soft serve ice cream in sit-down and fast food restaurants contains palm oil derivatives such as mono- and diglycerides.
You will have to contact the manufacturer in advance to find out the source of the mono- and diglycerides they use. They likely won’t know at the store as the source doesn’t need to be labeled.
Thank you to Ben & Jerry’s
Many people avoid palm oil for environmental concerns. On a personal note, my son gets sick from palm oil and palm oil derivatives. As anyone who has a child with food issues will tell you, it’s an incredible feeling when your child has safe choices.
Incredibly, my son can walk to the freezer section, and pick ANY Ben & Jerry’s flavor he wants. He can choose! He’s not limited in any way. And we don’t have to stress over the ingredients, what to buy, or about him getting sick.
The ice cream we have at home is the one food category in which he doesn’t feel like he is missing out. He has enjoyed 10+ flavors and hasn’t experienced any reactions.
Thank you, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream for making ALL of your flavors without palm oil or ANY palm oil derivatives.
I will never be able to convey what it means to not have to watch, not have to worry, and not have to wonder what’s safe and if he will get sick.
It’s also wonderful to be able to tell friends and relatives they can buy “any Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream” for him easily.
Disclaimer and positive praise for Kroger
Please note that when we contacted ice cream companies, none of them were quick to admit to using palm oil and palm oil derivatives. Many times, customer service representatives did not answer questions even when we gave them the UPC code and asked specifically for the source of their (mono- and diglycerides, natural flavors, etc.).
Other times, they gave us conflicting information. We were not able to get clear answers on ice creams that use “Natural Flavors.”
Many companies responded with how that information is “proprietary.” Therefore, if you are avoiding palm oil for health reasons, be sure to avoid the ones with Natural Flavors unless you contact them.
“Natural Flavors” and “Natural Flavor” can contain palm oil. Natural Flavors may exist in these ice creams.
Kroger Family of Stores is the exception. They went above and beyond to get the information we asked for.
Instead of responding with stock answers, a customer service representative from Kroger Family of Stores sent our inquiries to their R&D and their suppliers. They told us the vendor for the source of the oils were derived from palm and soy oils. While we didn’t include them in our palm oil free list above, we thought it was important to mention Kroger for their honesty and transparency when answering our questions.
Finding palm oil free ice cream
As consumers rush through the grocery store, we are conditioned to make quick buying decisions, often based on price and what’s on sale.
By taking a few extra seconds to read ingredient labels, you can make a palm oil free choice. This will send a message to companies.
Higher quality ingredients and less ingredients = Less chance of palm oil
It’s available; you just need to know what to look for on the ice cream cartons. Once you find your favorite palm free brands and flavors, stock up when they are on sale.
Ice cream without palm oil is available. Let companies know consumers are paying attention. Write to them. Buy ice cream without it. Why do you buy palm free ice cream? Please let us know in the Comments.
To the best of our knowledge, these ice creams do not list palm oil ingredients or palm oil derivatives in their ingredients. We’ve noted which companies confirmed which of their flavors are palm oil free.
Use this list as a starting point but please know it’s not guaranteed. Please do your own due diligence. Also, please remember to read labels every time.
You may be surprised to learn there are thousands of products that contain palm oil. If you don’t see “palm” on an ingredient label, it may still contain it.
Know that unless you are being very diligent about reading labels, there’s a high probability there is palm oil in products you have right now. This includes packaged foods, self-care products, cosmetics, and laundry and cleaning products.
This site focuses on products that don’t contain any palm oil. However, it’s easier to avoid it when you know the products that contain it. In this way, you’ll know what to look for.
Here are some examples of palm oil products in these categories: Foods, Drinks, Self-Care, Cleaning, and Other.
Foods that contain palm oil
Baked goods: Pre-made at the grocery store
Cookies, including refrigerated dough
Also in items you use at home: Canned frosting, shortening, cake mixes, food dye, whipped cream, sprinkles
Bread, rolls, including refrigerated dough
Chewy, including taffy, red whips
In pieces – Magnesium stearate, a palm oil derivative, keeps them from sticking to the machines
Chocolate and chocolate-flavored
Cereal: With Vitamin A of 10% or greater, it likely has Vitamin A Palmitate
Cooking spray, grilling spray: If it doesn’t list palm oil, watch for Mono- and Diglycerides
Food coloring: Watch for propylene glycol, glycerin, Polysorbate 80
Fried onions in cans
Granola bars, snack, nutrition and protein bars
Ice cream, ice cream novelties: Most all soft serve ice cream contains Mono- & Diglycerides
Mac & cheese cups and boxes: Watch for Medium Chain Triglycerides or Glycerol Monostearate
Margarine, buttery spreads
Pizza, including frozen pizza and refrigerated dough
Refrigerated dough: Cookies, biscuits, rolls, pizza, etc.
Shoestring potatoes in cans
Spices, seasoning packs, mixes, extracts
Vitamins: Chewable, liquid, tablets, pills, gummy
Drinks that contain palm oil
Be sure to choose drinks with the least amount of ingredients.
Flavored drinks, coffees
Milk, including nut, soy, etc.: Unless it’s whole milk, it likely contains Vitamin A Palmitate
Self-care products with palm oil
Cosmetics: Mascara, lipstick, powders, foundation, nail polish, lip balm, etc.
Deodorant: Spray, solid, cream
Lotion and moisturizer
Shampoo and conditioner
Shaving cream, gel
Sunscreen: Spray, lotion, stick, cream
Cleaners that contain palm oil
Detergents and cleaners — in liquids, tablets, powders and sprays — typically contain palm oil. Even plant-derived and eco-friendly ones have it. This is where it’s essential to know names for derivatives because you won’t see “palm oil” listed in the ingredients.
Disposable sweeper pads
Cough drops, throat lozenges
E-juice, e-liquid, vape juice
Medicine: In gel cap, tablet, pills, liquid
Vitamins: In liquid, gel, gummy, tablet
What products contain it
According to Rainforest-Rescue.org, palm oil in foods is the greatest worldwide demand, taking 71% of the market for palm oil. Consumer products account for 24% total palm oil use. Energy accounts for 5% of global demand.
Palm oil is common in items you may not expect. You can learn more by reading labels. You will may notice Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil are common.
Lots of different names for it
Other times, you may see Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Red Palm Oil, or Organic Palm Oil. If you are interested in avoiding palm oil products, it’s important to not buy items with these palm ingredients.
Once you start reading labels, you will become more familiar about the types of products that contain palm oil. In so doing, you may have questions about other ingredients that seem similar.
The scientific name for the palm oil that companies use in products is Elaeis guineensis. This type of palm oil comes from the oil palm tree.
The oil palm tree is not the same type of palm as coconut. Also, Caranuba wax is different. They are all “from palm trees” but there are many different typesof palms.
Why is palm oil in everything
There are many reasons why palm oil is in everything.
One reason is because palm oil is inexpensive. It’s a productive crop in that farmers can grow more palm oil per hectare than other oils. Especially in Sumatra and Borneo, developers are clearing rainforests to make way for more palm oil plantations. This seriously threatens native species.
Another reason palm oil is in everything is because it’s a versatile vegetable oil. It works in many ways in many different types of foods.
It has a high melting point and can remain semi-solid at room temperature. This makes it work equally well in creamy products — in everything from food spreads, dressings, lotions, shampoo and frosting — as well as in products that need to be more solid — like bar soaps, lip balm, shortening, and deodorant sticks.
In addition, companies also use it to increase the shelf life of products. It works as a preservative in food and non-food items.
Crunchy or chewy
This versatile oil can help foods keep their crunch. Used other ways, palm oil enables processed foods to be chewy.
It works very well to enhance the mouthfeel of products. This is why common palm oil products include dough, ice cream, margarine, spreads, creams, fillings, shortening, canned frosting, etc.
Who uses it?
Manufacturers put palm oil in everything from soap to laundry detergent, dish soap, to processed foods including baked goods, instant noodles, granola bars, candy, and more.
Palm oil works well to replace trans-fats that were once so common in foods.
Since the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned trans-fats in foods in the United States, companies needed to find replacements. Because palm oil works in so many ways, companies changed recipes and started adding it to their foods.
Items containing it
If you are trying to avoid products that use palm oil, start by reading labels. Don’t buy products with any palm- ingredients. After that, learn the other names for palm oil derivatives in common, everyday items.
Pick a product and find a palm oil free option. Sometimes all the options in a category contain palm oil. You may have to do without or make your own.
After you find a product without it, continue to be brand-loyal as long as it remains palm oil free.
After that, choose another product without it. This website has examples of palm oil free products in many categories, including soaps, deodorant, toothpaste, sunscreen, shampoo, candy, cereal, etc. We have a very popular post which lists all of them together.
You may be surprised at what types of items at the store contain palm oil. If you want to avoid palm oil products because of environmental concerns and the controversy surrounding sustainable palm oil, this website is a good place to start.
We started this website becauseour son gets very sick from palm oil and palm oil derivatives. Many people choose either sustainable palm oil or ones without it at all. There’s a lot you can do if you are trying to avoid it.
What can I do?
You can start by taking some easy first steps such as buying more fresh fruits and vegetables. After that, you can try to cook from scratch more. Then, you can learn some recipes and bake from scratch — without using shortening — instead of buying pre-made desserts from the grocery store.
You can use less self-care items overall. After you get in that habit and need to buy replacements for the items you use frequently, you can substitute palm oil free options.
Making simple switches at home is a great place to start. Use baking soda, vinegar, or lemon for cleaning.
Read labels so you can find the products that use palm oil and choose the ones that don’t. Remember, there hundreds of names for palm oil, and there are dozens of ways companies use it because it’s so versatile. It’s also inexpensive.
Because there are so many derivative names, there are thousands of products that contain palm oil.