Palm oil is prevalent in personal care items such as soap, shampoo, lip balm, etc. Palm oil makes our son sick. This is a list of the personal care items he uses in order to stay healthy and live palm oil free.
Palm oil is common in processed foods as well as in non-foods.
When we first made the connection that palm oil was causing him to have allergy symptoms, we started logging what he ate. We eliminated foods.
At that time, we only knew to eliminate foods with “palm oil” and “palm kernel oil” from his diet. Still, he was having reactions.
We didn’t know why until we came upon the list from the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark Programme (POFCAP). We learned there are hundreds of names for palm oil ingredients. Many of them don’t have “palm” in them, making them more challenging to recognize.
We printed out this list of names for palm oil and didn’t buy any food until we cross-referenced it against their list. It continues to be a tremendous help.
At that time, we didn’t know palm oil is common in non-food items as well. Our son was still getting sick. Oftentimes it was from personal care products that contained palm oil.
After we drastically cut down on processed foods, there were other times he would get sick — sometimes right before our eyes. Meaning, he would have an almost-immediate reaction to a product.
During this time, we started to learn how prevalent palm oil is in all types of products, including soap, toothpaste, and shampoo, etc.
Reactions from lip balm
He had such chapped lips that we put a free sample of a Rodan + Fields serum on them before he went to bed. While his chapped lips went away overnight, he woke up with a bad sore throat.
We looked up the ingredients, and sure enough, there were at least two palm oil ingredients in it. (The ingredients had “palm” in the name.)
Reactions from toothpaste
Awhile later, he had dry lips and cracking in the corners of his mouth. When we learned there is palm oil in toothpaste, we sought out to find a different one. When we finally found one — he used Redmond Earthpaste — his lips healed in days.
Reactions from soap
Never again do we use the free samples in hotels, no matter how eco-friendly the packaging.
After using soap from a hotel, our son got such a bad sore throat, he was sick for days. Whenever we travel, we bring a full-size palm oil free bar with us for our family to use.
How does our son live without palm oil? This is a list of the foods he eats. Here we discuss the personal items he uses regularly.
Personal care items without palm oil when you have a palm oil intolerance
It’s important to know that even companies who seem to be environmentally-friendly often use palm oil in their products.
You may see companies highlight the “coconut” in their products only to look at the rest of the ingredients and see many palm oil derivative names.
Also, if they don’t spell out the source, as in Tocopherol (Soy) or Tocopherol (Sunflower) it most likely contains palm oil.
Always try to find products with the least amount of ingredients. For non-food products, these tend to be the ones that don’t have scents.
Smaller, independent, speciality companies also will use higher quality ingredients. Remember, palm oil is inexpensive. That’s why so many companies use it.
We have many lists of personal care products without palm oil in which we list all of these smaller companies and their amazing palm oil free products. Our household uses many of them.
For this post, we are listing what our son uses regularly.
Please note, we aren’t guaranteeing any of these are palm oil free. You don’t know if something is 100% palm oil free unless it has the Palm Oil Free certification labeling. These are products our son uses safely.
Davids Natural Toothpaste
We are grateful to have found this toothpaste. It foams and is minty. He feels his teeth are clean after using it.
Unfortunately, we haven’t found a fluorinated toothpaste without palm oil.
Typically, there is more than one palm oil ingredient in toothpaste, no matter how eco-friendly it may seem. Some of them include Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, and Propylene Glycol.
Ingredients in lip balms vary greatly. You will find some products with just a few ingredients and many others with 10+ ingredients. Remember, the more ingredients something has, the greater the chance it has palm oil.
Like all of these personal care products, there are many palm oil derivatives to watch out for. Some include Tocopherol, Vitamin E, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propylene Glycol, etc.
Badger Unscented Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Zinc Oxide Sunscreen All Season Face Stick
Badger Sport Unscented Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Natural Mineral Sunscreen Cream Clear Zinc
Whether you are looking for a cream, lotion, or a spray, it’s difficult to find this palm oil free. The palm oil derivatives are usually in the Inactive Ingredients. There are many to watch for, including Tocopherol, Vitamin E, Glycerin, Glycerol Stearate, etc.
Personal care products you can use if you avoid palm oil
We have others items he uses on occasion but these are the ones he uses most often. While we are always looking for more products he can use, we try not to change his products because we know these are working for him.
Using less overall
By using less products overall, it is better for the environment. It also saves money. In addition, it means less ingredients and chemicals our body has to process.
Eco-friendly brands and greenwashing
When you start looking at the long list of ingredients in most self-care products and non-food products you buy, it’s incredible.
In each of these products, there are 10+ palm oil ingredients companies use that don’t use “palm” in the name.
Before intentionally giving up palm oil, our household never took much notice. Were there always so many ingredients in these products? I don’t think so.
Back in the 1990s, I switched to an eco-friendly brand of shampoo and conditioner. I found the Sodium Lauryl Sulfite and the Aluminum Lauryl Sulfites and similar type ingredients in other products affected my scalp.
Fast forward twenty years, I was still buying from the same company but the products affected me. They weren’t the same “clean” type ingredients they used to be.
This company built an image as being environmentally-friendly — and even though they’ve changed ingredients to lower quality / cheaper ingredients in so many of their products — most consumers don’t know or care.
Why Palm Oil Free labeling certification is important
Palm oil is in all of types of self-care, hygiene, and beauty products.
It’s in shampoo, conditioner, lotion, sunscreen, and deodorant. It’s in shaving cream, cosmetics, lipstick, nail polish, hair dye, hair gel, and face paint.
Most consumers have no idea many of the ingredients in these items are derived from palm oil.
The only way to know is if the product has earned Palm Oil Free certification.
Remember, if you are avoiding palm oil for environmental reasons, you may be fine with purchasing products that use sustainable palm oil. However, if you avoid it because you have a palm oil sensitivity, you need to know if it has palm oil in it.
When a product has a Palm Oil Free label on it, you will know for sure that each ingredient was thoroughly researched, down to the source.
How to find hygiene items without palm oil
Choose products with the least amount of ingredients.
Assume “Glycerin” and “Tocopherol” are made from palm oil unless they state the source. See our other posts for the ways palm oil derivatives are present in these types of products.
Know that most hygiene and personal care items contain more than one palm oil ingredient.
When looking for palm oil free personal care type products, it’s best to patronize small businesses and artisans. Go to your local farmer’s market. Check out the label from a bar soap when you are in a specialty shop.
These are the opportunities to support small businesses while also getting a much higher quality product.
List of favorite palm oil free care products
Davids Natural Toothpaste
Grandma’s Baking Soda Soap / Remwood Products
Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap
Booda Organics Original Lip Balm
Vaseline Lip Therapy Advanced Healing Moisturizer
Badger Unscented Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Zinc Oxide Sunscreen All Season Face Stick
Badger Sport Unscented Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Natural Mineral Sunscreen Cream
Ethique Coconut & Lime Butter Block
Thank you for reading and for being an Informed Consumer!
My son gets sick from palm oil. Many times, people ask us what he can have. We created this eating without palm oil list specific to my son. These are the foods he likes and eats safely.
We created this site to help others who might have sensitivities and intolerances to palm oil. As we learned more about palm oil, we learned about the environmental concerns as well.
Eating without palm oil list ~ What my child eats because he is sensitive to palm oil
Our son reacts to even trace amounts of palm oil as well as palm oil derivatives so we believe these items are okay if you are avoiding palm oil. But note they are not guaranteed. We update this list regularly.
Something positive that’s come of this is we all eat healthier, cleaner foods. We cook and bake from scratch regularly. We have less processed foods and eat out less.
Overall, we eat more real foods and buy products with less “ingredients.”
While we have comprehensive lists of palm oil free products, this list is specific to my son will actually eat.
In general, we keep things simple.
When buying packaged foods, we stick to original flavors which tend to have less palm oil than complicated flavors. We also choose products with the least amount of ingredients as possible.
Whenever possible, we choose the less processed option. Example: We buy nuts in their shell instead of already shelled.
Palm oil hides in “Natural Flavors” making it even more stressful. See more below. Learn about his palm oil allergy/intolerance.
Our son will eat most any vegetable that you can eat raw. He has several each day, plain, without dressing.
Examples of vegetables he eats regularly: snap peas, snow peas, carrots, red pepper, orange pepper, yellow pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, lettuce, celery.
We buy organic when possible, especially the dirty dozen like celery.
He eats a lot of fruits every day. He can have all fruits except for grapes which upset his system. As far as we know, grapes and palm oil ingredients are the only things that affect him. (We need to research if they are botanically-related in some way?)
barkTHINS Snacking Chocolate: Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: original; regular packaging; no holiday versions
Hershey’s bars: Milk Chocolate, Almond, Special Dark
Hershey’s Kisses: Milk Chocolate, Almond
M&M’s Milk Chocolate, Almond
Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Mini Chips
Sour Patch Kids
Jolly Rancher Hard Candies
He can have any “real” chocolate as well. We choose the ones with as few ingredients as possible. As an example, the chocolate chips we buy only contain Cocoa Butter, Unsweetened Chocolate, and Cane Sugar.
Other marshmallows with the same ingredients as above are likley fine.
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar: any size
Honey Maid Grahams (Many other brands contain palm oil and palm oil derivatives such as DATEM.)
We have to make all of his desserts because the ones in bakeries and grocery stores contain palm oil. Together we make brownies, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and biscotti. In addition, we make our own frosting easily with confectioners sugar, real butter, whole milk, and pure vanilla.
The only mixes we use are:
Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix
Pillsbury Milk Chocolate Brownie Mix
I make these brownies and freeze them for when he goes to a birthday party, etc.
Baking ingredients we use
Whole milk without Vitamin A Palmitate
Red-Star Yeast in the 3-pack is the only one we found without palm oil derivatives.
We use Lucerne from Albertson’s/Safeway
Kirkland Organic Eggs from Costco
Simply Organic Pure Vanilla Extract
Any “pure” extract is likely fine.
Pure cane sugar
We use C&H Pure Cane Sugar. Any sugar with just “sugar” listed is likely fine.
King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
Probably most any flour would be okay.
Confectioners sugar / powdered sugar
We use C&H Confectioners Sugar to make frosting.
We use Clabber Girl Double Acting Baking Powder.
Pure baking soda
We use Arm & Hammer.
Chocolate chips: Enjoy Life Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Red Ape Cinnamon (It’s certified Palm Oil Free.)
100% pure maple syrup
We are used to making substitutions. He can’t have Rice Krispie treats because the cereal contains Vitamin A Palmitate; however, we can use the marshmallows and real butter to coat air-popped popcorn for a treat just as delicious.
The majority of our dinners consist of meat, fruit and raw vegetables. My son will eat all of these without issue.
We vary how we cook the meats. If we are out, we ask for them to cook the meat with salt.
Again, we cook meats with garlic cloves, chopped onion, salt. Sometimes we use avocado oil, lime, lemon, peppers, etc. for additional flavoring.
We cook with as simple ingredients as possible. Because onion and garlic powders can contain palm oil, we only use real, fresh onions, and garlic.
In addition, we buy lemons and limes and use them; we don’t buy the squeeze lime juices, etc. These contain additives that we aren’t sure are safe for him.
He eats a wide variety of fruits and raw vegetables.
Eating at fast food restaurants without palm oil
We are grateful when restaurants publish their ingredients online so we can check in advance.
Many restaurants list which products contain the major allergens but don’t spell out the ingredients. Palm oil isn’t recognized as an allergen so that doesn’t help us.
Other restaurant chains spell out the Nutritional Profile with the calorie count and fat content but not the actual ingredients. It’s frustrating.
Important: Many restaurant French fries contain palm oil.
If they make the French fries fresh on-site — like In-N-Out Burger and Five Guys — they most likely won’t contain palm oil.
We are loyal to these restaurants because these are places he can go and won’t get sick.
(Their fries contain palm oil.)
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Hamburger meat plain; no bun
Four hamburger patties plain
We are so grateful to In-N-Out Burger. This is one of my son’s favorites because he can have their fries and shakes. This is the only place he has shakes / ice cream.
Sometimes he orders the burgers wrapped in lettuce.
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers:
Cane’s Combo (He can eat the chicken and the fries and doesn’t eat the bread.)
Eating palm oil free at other restaurants
At sit down restaurants, he orders meat cooked with salt. He doesn’t eat bread.
At Mexican restaurants he orders fajitas and just eats the meat, not the tortillas or cooked vegetables. He doesn’t have the tortilla chips. We rarely go to Italian restaurants.
Typically, we don’t go out to eat unless we have to. When we do, we look for places that will have meat they can cook-to-order with just salt. We’ve had luck at Outback Steakhouse and others.
Going on vacation when you are avoiding palm oil
One of the biggest stresses is eating away from home when you are trying to avoid palm oil. Vacations are stressful.
We always pack palm oil free safe foods when we travel.
For vacations, so we don’t have to rely on restaurants, instead of staying in a hotel, we usually rent an AirBNB or VRBO with a kitchen. Then we can continue to buy the above foods.
It’s a lot healthier to eat this way too. And it saves us money.
When traveling, we always bring RX Bars, nuts, fruits, and other safe snacks whether we are driving or flying.
If we go on a road trip, we will bring a cooler so we can keep more fresh vegetables and fruits.
School parties and class treats without palm oil
My son brings a lunch to school everyday so we don’t have to worry about any palm oil in school lunches.
Oftentimes, our son has to miss out on treats and snacks at school. There are sometimes food rewards and class parties.
In addition, students are allowed to bring in treats for their birthdays. If you have 27 kids bringing in doughnuts, that’s 27 doughnuts my son isn’t able to eat. (This isn’t necessarily a bad thing!)
We can’t anticipate birthdays so he will usually eat something from his lunch bag. Every so often, I will give him a Larabar Chocolate Brownie to keep in his backpack. If we know in advance, I will give him brownie that I made and froze.
For classroom parties, depending what they are asking for, I typically send in something safe he can have.
If it’s a party with desserts, I send brownies or cookies. If it’s a classroom celebration without dessert-type foods, I will send in fruit, Cheddar Goldfish, Rold Gold Pretzels, Pirate’s Booty, potato chips, or popcorn.
Trying new foods when you can’t have palm oil
It’s scary trying new foods. Palm oil ingredients don’t have to be specially labeled.
Natural Flavors can contain palm oil.
Before buying anything new, we consider the type of product it is, and if it’s something that usually contains palm oil. We know that some products will always contain palm oil, and we won’t ever buy them.
In addition, we think about palm oil uses and how it’s used in the product. For example, if it’s a product that uses an emusifier, is there another emusifier listed that spells out the source, such as Soy Lecithin? If so, then this might be a safe product.
After that, we further look at all of the ingredients and cross-reference it against the list of hundreds of names for palm oil, knowing that palm oil can be hiding under many different ingredient names.
We introduce new foods sparingly and always one at a time. We watch for symptoms. If he is symptom free, the next time we will give him a little bit more. Once we determine it’s safe, we will add it more regularly.
Asking companies about palm oil in their ingredients
When we find something that seems safe, we email to ask the company about it — many times they don’t respond. Many times they don’t know.
Oftentimes, they respond saying there isn’t palm oil in it but after pressing further, we learn there is.
Companies changing ingredients to include palm oil
We’ve also learned to always check labels before buying these products above. Companies change ingredients often.
Since we learned of our son’s palm oil intolerance, there have been many processed food items he was able to have until they changed ingredients.
Some of these include Peanut M&M’s, Mr. Goodbar, Honeycomb Cereal, and Oreo cookies. No loss on not having these products except that it’s discouraging to see more and more companies and products using palm oil.
For most products, I keep the packaging with the UPC codes as a reference. I also take pictures of them and mark them as Favorites so I can easily find them on my phone while I’m in the store.
Companies discontinuing products that they made without palm oil
We’ve also found this happen many times.
There were many KIND bars my son was able to safely eat until they discontinued them. This has also happened with Dark Chocolate Mint M&M’s.
It’s happened with several store brands of crackers and snack bars as well.
Palm oil free certification labeling is important
When a company has a product which earned Palm Oil Free certification, that’s of tremendous help.
That means the company has taken the time to submit their product ingredients to an independent third-party organization. The organization checks all the ingredients in the product(s).
They check them down to the source — from the supplier. An example: We see Citric Acid on a label. The Palm Oil Free certifying organization will dig deeper to find out the source of that Citric Acid — what is in it?
Two independent Palm Oil Free certification companies are:
International Palm Oil Free Trademark Certification Programme (POFCAP) – Learn more here.
Our family always buys products certified with a No Palm Oil label.
What do you eat if you can’t have palm oil?
We are using his palm oil allergy/sensitivity as a positive reminder to eat healthier food.
We have learned SO MUCH about all the chemicals in foods and all the ways they use inferior ingredients to save money.
Our son knows how to read labels. He knows the common ingredients to look for which include Mono- & Diglycerides, Glycerin, Glycerine, Polysorbate 60, Polysorbate 80, Tocopherols, and anything with Stearate, including Magnesium Stearate and Calcium Stearate.
If he is in doubt, he doesn’t eat it.
We’ve learned to assume everything has palm oil in it and be happily surprised when it doesn’t.
He knows what he can order at the fast food restaurants if he’s out with friends. He says “no thank you” a lot to food.
Sometimes it’s difficult.
He’s a kid in a processed food, snack-all-the-time, food-rewards-for-everything world.
However, we started this website as a way to empower our family — to feel like we were doing something to create awareness about the way palm oil is hidden in so many products. See About Us here.
We also learn a lot by trial and error and like that we can log everything here, on this website, so we can reference it.
We wanted other people to start reading labels and to see how companies are hiding palm oil in so many ways.
Most people just toss a box of Poptarts and everything else in their carts without considering the ingredients.
We didn’t think our son could be the only one who has a palm oil allergy or palm oil intolerance. Even for consumers who don’t have symptoms from palm oil and palm kernel oil, we know many avoid it for environmental reasons.
There are a lot of people who even if they don’t give up palm oil completely, might be interested in buying it less often.
Focusing on real foods
The best thing we’ve done is to focus on healthy choices.
We talk about all of the ingredients and chemicals in foods.
We try to empower our son to make his own choices. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean we have to eat it.
He and I get a great deal of satisfaction from hearing from readers via the comments below as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Please follow us.
We like to thank the companies for making products without palm oil ingredients so they will know consumers care and want these types of products.
Sometimes companies change their ingredients to include palm oil derivatives. It’s important to read ingredients every time.
Please note, we do not guarantee these products are palm oil free. The only way to know for certain is if it has earned Palm Oil Free certification.
There are many consumers who avoid palm oil for health reasons. This may include dietary or allergen concerns. Yet the question remains, is palm oil good or bad for you?
While environmental concerns may still be a leading reason people avoid palm oil, there is a growing segment who seek alternatives because they experience reactions from it.
Others may be concerned about palm oil’s saturated fat content.
What are palm oil health dangers? Are there palm oil health benefits? What’s the difference between red palm oil and palm oil?
Is palm oil saturated or unsaturated?
As reported in health.com, palm oil’s nutritional profile is similar to other edible and cooking oils. According to the USDA, one tablespoon is the equivalent to 120 calories and 14 grams of total fat.
Of those 14 grams, 7 grams are in the form of saturated fat, and 5 grams are monounsaturated fat. There are 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat. .
Palm kernel oil contains 11 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.
To compare, olive oil contains 2 grams of saturated fat.
Palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil are high in saturated fat.
Many health and wellness experts believe food high in saturated fat negatively affect the heart.
What is saturated fat?
In general, the higher the saturated fat content, the more solid it is at room temperature.
This makes it ideal for baking. It also contributes greatly to mouthfeel — think creamy products like ice cream, frozen desserts, chocolate candies, dough, canned frosting, margarine, and more.
Palm oil is versatile. Just as it can remain semi-solid at room temperature, companies can also process it into liquid form for cooking.
Is palm oil bad for your health?
There hasn’t been enough research to determine the potential health affects of palm oil.
The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health states the main argument against using palm oil as an edible oil is because it contains palmitic acid which is a saturated fatty acid.
They report that would contribute to rising total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
They note its effects on serum lipid levels and cardiovascular disease in humans is still a point of discussion.
Is palm oil dangerous to health?
This is a popular question, perhaps because there is a lot of controversy around palm oil. The biggest reason is its impact on the environment.
Palm oil has a high saturated fat content which many argue affects cardiovascular health. Most health experts recommend other oils — olive oil in particular — for cooking.
Please discuss with your health professional if you suspect you are allergic or sensitive to palm oil. Many people report having digestive issues when they have palm oil.
Palm oil has become one of the world’s most widely produced edible fats. The palm oil that’s now so common in foods and non-food products comes from the African oil palm: Elaeis guineensis.
Most of the world’s palm oil grows in Malaysia and Indonesia.
It used to be that people who were avoiding palm oil did so because of the environment.
Now that it’s become more commonplace in foods, people are starting to take notice of it. They see it on labels more and more.
Much of this is because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned food manufacturers from adding artificial trans fats into their products.
In 2015, the FDA gave companies until 2018 to phase palm oil out of their food products; some have extensions until January 2020.
Many companies turned to palm oil as a replacement for artificial trans fats.
As companies worked through their ingredient reformulations, palm oil appeared on labels more frequently.
Palm oil became and is now a common ingredient in margarine and other butter substititutes. It’s a staple in shortening, canned frosting, frozen desserts, desserts, candy, cookies, snack bars, and cereal. It’s in everything from Twizzlers to Dunkin’ Donuts.
Many companies are using palm oil and palm oil derivatives in new products and flavors they introduce to market.
Consumers are eating more of it than ever before.
While palm oil is an edible vegetable oil, non-food companies use it in many non-food products as well.
Avoiding palm oil for health reasons
We have a popular post, Can You Be Allergic to Palm Oil. I wrote it because my son gets sick from anything with palm oil in it. There are consumers who are negatively affected by it. Palm oil affects their health. They have reactions from it, and they are seeking answers.
Whether it’s an allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity, palm oil is proving to negatively affect some people.
In addition, in BakeryandSnacks.com, the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark Programme (POFCAP) explained they want to “help consumers find foods without palm oil for ethical, allergen, or dietary reasons.”
As the demand increases and its prevalence is more common in foods, consumers are eating more of it in processed and packaged foods than ever before.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that palm oil production almost doubled from 2003 to 2013. This was even before the FDA banned the use of artificial trans fats in foods.
Palm oil is now in half of packaged foods and consumer goods.
In addition to processed foods, consumers are also exposed to palm oil in cleaning products, toothpaste, cosmetics, lotion, deodorant, soap, over-the-counter medicines, sunscreen, and many more products.
Some consumers are noticing reactions to it. Others may be concerned with the saturated fat content in the foods.
Is palm oil healthy? Is palm oil good for you?
The question of whether palm oil is healthy for you is a common one. Many wonder: Is palm oil good for you?
According to Harvard Medical School nutrition experts, palm oil is better for us than artificial trans fats. However, they encourage consumers to use olive oil and canola oil because — unlike palm oil — they are naturally liquid at room temperature.
Is palm oil carcinogenic?
Healthline.com also reports that palm oil is high in saturated fat and that it’s been linked to a cancer risk. They cite a study from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which reports palm oil can cause cancer when processed at high temperatures, approximately 200 degrees Celcius (393 degrees F).
Their expert Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain found glycidol to be a carcinogenic and genotoxic.
As reported on WebMD, the EFSA stated palm oil may cause cancer based on studies on mice. Note, the study didn’t test on humans.
Glycidyl fatty acid esters, or GEs
Glycidyl fatty acid esters (GEs) are a new class of food-processing contaminant.
When palm oil is heated to temperatures above 200 degrees C or higher, harmful substances form. These are called Glycidyl fatty acid esters — GEs. The highest form of them are in palm oil. Learn more here.
Avoiding palm oil for health concerns
While consumers avoid palm oil for health reasons and environmental reasons, if you have reactions to palm oil or other conditions, talk to your doctor. Please do not use this for medical advice.
It’s very common in everyday products. It’s a very versatile oil. Companies use palm oil in many ways.
Because palm oil has so many different applications in so many types of products, it goes by hundreds of names. Many of them do not have the word “palm” in them. This makes reading labels challenging — though it can be done!
Here are some tips for avoiding palm oil. Limit buying processed and packaged foods. Choose whole foods such as fruits and vegetables. Cook at home. Choose food and non-food products with the least amount of ingredients.
Limiting processed foods is one of the best things you can do.
Since the artificial trans fat ban went into effect in the United States, companies needed to find other cheap alternatives. They used trans fats because they were cheap. Now they’ve turned to palm oil.
Red palm oil health benefits
Red palm oil originally attracted attention for its health benefits.
Virgin red palm oil — in it’s most natural state and still red — is high in lycopene, beta-carotene, and tocotrienols.
They recommend up to 1 – 2 tablespoons per day as well as using ones that are sustainable.
Is palm oil good or bad?
RealSimple.com tries to answer the question if palm oil is bad for you. In one section, they compare the palm oil industry to that of the tobacco and alcohol industries. Palm oil is big business. It’s also very political as well.
Companies are burning and deforesting rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia for palm oil plantations. However, in both of these countries, companies are not allowed to sell products advertising “Palm Oil Free” and “No Palm Oil.”
When you read about palm oil, it’s critical you determine the source. Also consider who may be profiting from the study or may be damaged from the study.
This is particularly important as you research sustainable palm oil and the Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil. There are many sides to this issue. Just because a company says it uses sustainable palm oil doesn’t mean it is.
POFCAP — the organization who certifies products as Palm Oil Free — estimates up to 80% of what’s considered sustainable is not.
So no matter what you read, be aware of who is circulating those lists and how they may benefit from positioning palm oil in a positive or negative light.
Palm oil health
Now that palm oil has become more common in foods, especially in the United States, there are questions about palm oil health. Consumers see it on labels and wonder what it is and if it’s good for them.
As consumers are more exposed to palm oil, it’s likely medical experts will take a better look at how it may affect them.
Some experts believe palm oil health dangers may surface now that consumers using more products with it (in the United States) than ever before.
Whereas consumers come in contact with palm oil and may consume it daily, this was not the case 5 – 10 years ago. Many people unknowingly use it morning, noon and night. It’s in their soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant. It’s in their creamer and muffin as well as their granola bar, bread, and spices.
Many consumers experience trouble digesting palm oil. Others report allergy-like symptoms. If you experience reactions from palm oil, be sure to report them to the FDA.
Report symptoms to FDA
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has a MedWatch Voluntary Reporting online form. It’s easy to complete and submit to report your symptoms. Just be sure to have the product information.
Palm oil is in all types of Valentine’s and holiday candies:
candy hearts, conversation hearts,
holiday chocolate, candy canes,
hard candies, licorice-types,
gummies, chocolate coins & oranges,
caramels, candies with pieces, & more
Candy companies continue to introduce new products and flavors, especially around the holidays. Remember, the more complicated the flavor, the more ingredients it has.
More ingredients = Greater chance for palm oil
In the last few years, it’s become the norm for candy companies to use palm oil as inexpensive ingredients in their candies.
Candy hearts, lollipops, candies in pieces, gummies, candy canes, mint ribbons, peppermint bark, and holiday chocolate often contain palm oil ingredients.
Valentine’s candy without palm oil
Our son has a palm oil allergy / intolerance. Because he is able to have these candies safely, we believe they are palm oil free.
Swedish Fish Valentine’s Day Hearts Bag
Sour Patch Kids Hearts
YumEarth! Organic Valentine’s Fruit Pops
YumEarth! Organic Gummy Fruits
Hershey’s Kisses Valentine’s Day:
Milk Chocolate bag with red, pink, & silver foils; not Hershey’s Hugs which have lines on the foils
Valentine’s Day Milk Chocolate Cane
Conversation Kisses: These are Milk Chocolate (pink, turquoise, and purple foils)
Almond Kisses with pinkish & gold foils
Giant Milk Chocolate Kiss 7 oz
We are disappointed it’s getting more difficult to find Almond M&M’s which used to be palm oil free. Wondering if they are reformulating their ingredients to include Tocopherols and Mixed Tocopherols (palm oil derivatives) like many of their other M&M flavors?
Learn more about our son’s palm oil sensitivity here.
Valentine’s Day is a popular day for candy at school
Most elementary schools across America allow students to pass out Valentine’s Day cards to their classmates. It’s almost become a mini-Halloween with all the candy my kids come home with.
Read ingredients before buying Valentine’s Day exchange boxes and bags that come with candy. You CAN find them without palm oil.
Valentine exchange without palm oil for school that come with a card or a To: / From: are:
We saw all of the following at Target. While we believe them to be palm oil free, please know they aren’t guaranteed.
YumEarth! Organic Valentine All UsersExchange Pop Box (40 Valentine’s Wrapped Pops)
Watch for palm oil in these types of candies during the holidays
Chocolate bars with a “coating”
“Filled” candies and candy bars
“Crispy” candy bars
“Crunchy” chocolate bars
Shiny hard candies, mint ribbons, candy canes, etc.
Look for solid milk chocolate or solid dark chocolate bars.
Why companies use palm oil in candy
Palm oil is inexpensive for companies to use. It’s also very versatile. Candy companies use palm oil in many ways, including:
Creates mouthfeel — makes candies smooth and creamy
Preservative to maintain shelf-life
Adds shine to candy
Prevents blooming (when chocolate turns white from not being stored properly)
As an emulsifier so the ingredients blend together
Prevents candy pieces from sticking to the machines
Also, as companies invent new candy flavors, they often contain palm oil ingredients.
What is the chocolate product called?
Before buying chocolate, look on the front at the product description. What is it called?
There is a difference between “Milk Chocolate” and “Chocolate Flavored.”
We often grab and go, without reading product descriptions.
The best example I can give of this is what happened with Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar this year.
It used to be called “Milk Chocolate.” It did not list “Palm Oil” in the ingredients.
Hershey’s changed it to “Chocolate Candy.” The ingredients under this product name now include Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil.
Watch for the ways the companies describe their products.
“Chocolate-Flavored” likely contains palm oil.
“Chocolately” likely contains palm oil.
“Chocolate candy” likely contains palm oil.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stricter criteria for “Chocolate” than it does for “Chocolate-Flavored,” “Chocolate Candy,” and “Chocolately.”
In order to call a product Milk Chocolate, it must comply with stricter FDA regulations. NOTE: These can still contain palm oil ingredients. However, what makes the product “chocolate” won’t contain palm oil like it does with “chocolate flavored,” etc.
Holiday candy without palm oil
Please note, this list is not guaranteed. Use it as a starting point. In order to ensure a product is palm oil free, it should have the Palm Oil Free label from the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark Programme.
York Peppermint Patties Dark Chocolate Coated Peppermint Patties with “Happy Holidays”
Market Pantry Peppermint Starlight Mints Hard Candy (at Target)
Market Pantry Soft Peppermint Puffs 7 oz (at Target)
Chocolate holiday candy without palm oil
Milk Chocolate — silver foil
Milk Chocolate with Almond — gold foil
Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate — purple foil
Hershey’s Kisses Christmas holiday packaging in bags:
Milk Chocolate — bag with red and green foils
Santa Hat Kisses are the same as Milk Chocolate — top of foil wrapper is red, bottom is silver
Milk Chocolate with Almond — bag with red, green, and gold foils
Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate — bag with red, green, and purple foils
Other holiday Kisses: Be sure you are buying “Milk Chocolate Kisses”
Santa Hat Mini Kiss 1.45 oz
Giant Milk Chocolate Kiss — 7 oz and 12 oz
Milk Chocolate Kisses in plastic candy cane
Kisses Holiday Sleeve 1.6 oz
Hershey’s Kisses Holiday Advent Calendar 3.8 oz
Hershey’s Bars — all sizes
Milk Chocolate with Almond
Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate
Milk Chocolate 1 Pound Bar
Milk Chocolate 3 Pound Holiday Milk Chocolate (saw at Walmart)
Hershey-ets Holiday Filled Candy Cane 1.4 oz
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Snack Size Cups (original version)
Choose the original packaging — avoid holiday labeling — and recipe to be sure you avoid palm oil.
Please note, M&M’s doesn’t make claims these are palm oil free. They do not list palm oil ingredients on their labels which is why we are including them here. My son — who gets sick from palm oil — enjoys them safely.
Almond — These are getting difficult to find in stores. Is M&M’s reformulating them to include Palm Oil? They have discontinued their Dark Chocolate Mint M&M. They changed their ingredients for Peanut M&M’s, and they include palm oil know. Stay tuned….
M&M’s Christmas packaging in bags:
Milk Chocolate — red and green M&M’s
Almond — red and green M&Ms
Other M&M’s holiday packaging — Be sure you buy the Milk Chocolate (and not in Peanut which contains palm oil).
Giant M&M’s Christmas Yard Bar 30.42 oz
M&M’s Christmas Box 3.1 oz
Light & Sound Christmas Tree .46 oz
(Green) Holiday Ornament Tin
Christmas Story Book
Mini’s Mega Tube 1.77 oz
Mini Tube Naughty or Nice 1.08 oz
Holiday Mini’s Milk Chocolate 4 Pack Tubes 4.32 oz
Minis Baking Bits
Holiday Candy Cane (plastic cane filled with Milk Chocolate M&M’s) 3 oz
There are many fair-trade certified labels with milk chocolate and dark chocolate that don’t contain palm oil. Again, choose the ones with the least amount of ingredients.
Read labels and avoid Tocopherols if the source isn’t listed — it’s often from palm oil — even in “eco” brands of chocolate.
Chocolate oranges and chocolate coins often contain palm oil. Those made in European countries typically do not.
Boxed specialty chocolate on the shelves typically contain palm oil to preserve shelf life (among other things).
Holiday hard candy – read labels
Watch for Magnesium Stearate and Calcium Stearate. These are palm oil derivatives. Candy manufacturers use them because they help keep the candies from sticking to the machines.
You might not expect palm oil to be in mint ribbons and other brightly-colored hard candies in plastic bags. Read labels. Most contain palm oil.
Finding palm oil free Christmas Candy
Avoid mixed bags of holiday candies. At least one kind will contain palm oil.
You will have greater success finding palm oil free candy by purchasing candy bags separately. All the holiday candy mix bags we found for Christmas contain palm oil.
Also, if you don’t see your favorite candies on this list, they may contain palm oil and palm oil derivatives. Check out our comprehensive list of Halloween candy without palm oil for more info. Read labels in stores. It only takes a few seconds.
Remember, there are many more holiday candies with palm oil than without it.
Note, gum usually contains palm oil in the form of Glycerin or Glycerol.
Palm oil free holiday candy
Many people avoid palm oil because of environmental concerns. There are also consumers who avoid it because they experience reactions from it. Please use this list as a starting point.
Whether you are buying candy for baking, to fill the stockings, for gifts, to put out at work and at parties, or to enjoy at home, you can find Christmas candies without palm oil ingredients.
It’s also possible to find Valentine’s candy without palm oil.
You just have to know what to look for and what to avoid.
Take a few extra sections to look for these candies above and read labels. When shopping, it’s tempting to just grab whatever candy catches our eye. However, by reading labels before buying, you can make a big impact.
We are grateful to these candy companies above for not including palm oil ingredients in these products.
Be loyal to these products. We hope they will continue to make them without palm oil.
Read labels before buying. Companies change ingredients. Avoid palm oil and palm oil derivatives in candy at Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, every other holiday, and all year.
You can start your day with a breakfast without palm oil if you know what to watch for. Below we discuss common breakfast foods, which ones contain palm oil, and some easy palm oil free substitutions.
Sometimes you have time for a homemade breakfast and sometimes you need to grab and go. Here are choices for palm oil free breakfasts.
Most of us have palm oil in the morning without even realizing it.
Breakfast without palm oil
Toast, English muffins, croissants, and bagels
One brand for palm oil free English muffins, bagels, and bread is Dave’s Killer Bread products.
Dave’s Killer Bread: all products
Dave’s Killer Bread confirmed they don’t use palm oil in their products.
Other breads typically contain palm oil derivatives in many forms. Bread manufacturers use palm oil derivatives to keep them shelf stable, to make them larger/fluffier, to make them more dense, and/or to add to mouth feel.
Watch for ingredients such as:
Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate
Calcium Stearoyl Lactylate
Mono- & Diglycerides
Ethoxylated Mono- & Diglycerides
If you make your own bread, use Yeast without Sorbitan Monostearate which is often sourced from palm oil.
The only palm oil free yeast we’ve found — just “yeast” is listed in the ingredients — is:
Red Star Active Dry Yeast: in the three-pack
Spreads without palm oil
What are you putting on your toast, bagel, or English muffin?
Some palm oil free choices include:
Nocciolata Organic Hazelnut Spread
Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Organic Butter
100% fruit preserves
Peanut butter: Use protein-packed palm oil free peanut butter but be sure to read labels. Also, avoid “no stir” labeling. (“No stir” is a marketing buzzword code for “it includes palm oil.”
Please note, margarine and imitation butters typically contain palm oil.
Doughnuts, muffins, and pastries
We have yet to find doughnuts and pastries without palm oil. Pre-made desserts most always contain palm oil.
While it’s common to see doughnuts and other bakery items at the office and at meetings, do your best to avoid them.
Avoid packaged bakery snacks, including PopTarts. These contain palm oil as do most cookies.
Erin Baker’s Breakfast Cookies: They’ve confirmed they make all of their flavors without palm oil.
Make your own muffins, and store them in the freezer for a fast, palm free breakfast when you need it.
Bacon, ham, and sausage
In the United States, you can typically find palm oil free bacon, sausage, and ham. Some brands we use include:
Kirkland Sliced Bacon, Naturally Hickory Smoked: from Costco
Banquet Brown ‘N Serve Original 10 Fully Cooked Sausage Links
Pancakes and waffles
Many frozen waffles and pancakes contain palm oil ingredients. Read labels. One that’s doesn’t contain palm oil is:
Van’s Organic Original Frozen Waffles
You can easily make your own with flour, sugar, eggs, pure vanilla extract and baking powder.
Be sure to use pure vanilla extract as imitation versions typically contain Propylene Glycol or other palm oil derivatives.
Make batches of pancakes and waffles and freeze them. In this way, you can enjoy them when you need a fast breakfast.
100% pure maple syrup
Do watch for syrup. Many bottles contain Mono- and Diglycerides. Always choose 100% maple syrup to avoid palm oil derivatives.
Hold the whipping cream — it contains palm oil in the form of Mono- & Diglycerides.
Add pure maple syrup and any types of berries, and/or sliced banana. You won’t miss the whipped cream.
Use Dave’s Killer Bread, eggs, pure vanilla extract, and milk without Vitamin A Palmitate.
Add pure maple syrup, pure cinammon, real butter, and fruit, and you have a delicious, filling breakfast without palm oil.
There’s a lot you can do with eggs. Choose organic eggs if you can.
Hard boil them in advance for a quick breakfast on the go. You can also take a few minutes at home to poach, scramble, fry, etc. If you have time, add onion and peppers.
Salsa is typically palm oil free if you buy it, and it’s great on eggs.
You can make a frittata in advance. Look online for egg casserole and fritatta recipes. You can add in anything you have: sausage, bacon, spinach, herbs, tomatoes, onion, garlic, cheese, potatoes, etc. Top with avocado.
Note, palm oil free egg substitutes and replacers may contain Vitamin A Palmitate and/or Vitamin E which can be made with palm oil.
Oatmeal (not instant which often contains Vitamin A Palmitate)
Read labels, and watch for palm oil and palm kernel oil.
In addition, avoid all cereal with Vitamin A listed in the nutrition panel. It’s in the form of synthetic Vitamin A Palmitate, which is made with palm oil.
Watch for Glycerin and Tocopherols in Granola.
Oatmeal is palm oil free. However, instant oatmeal usually contails Vitamin A Palmitate.
Make a batch of quinoa to warm up during the week. Add fruit, nuts, cinnamon, pure honey, pure maple syrup, etc. for a warm, hearty breakfast.
You can make your own granola as well.
Palm oil free breakfast
Sometimes you need to grab and go, and protein and other types of nutrition bars are a convenient breakfast. Read our post, Granola Bars without palm oil to find palm oil free choices.
Read labels on snack and protein bars. Many contain Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, as well as Glycerin and Tocopherols which are usually sourced from palm oil.
It’s convenient to have powdered or premade instant breakfast drinks to start your day with vitamins and minerals. However, instant breakfast mixes and drinks typically contain Vitamin A Palmitate.
No matter what’s in season, there are convenient options to enjoy fruit for breakfast at home or on-the-go.
Coffee and creamer
Black coffee is palm oil free. Flavored coffees, such as buttery caramel, toffee, etc., can contain palm oil derivatives in the “Natural Flavors.”
Creamer often contains palm oil.
Read labels before buying creamers, and watch for:
Mono- and Diglycerides
Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate
Remember, the more complicated the flavor, the greater chance there are palm oil ingredients.
Instead of creamer, add whole milk. Read labels for milk. Watch for Vitamin A Palmitate.
Whole milk typically doesn’t contain Vitamin A Palmitate, a palm oil derivative.
Manufacturers often fortify nut-based and plant-based milks with Vitamin A Palmitate as well. Read labels before buying.
Choose milk without supplemental Vitamin A.
Reminders for a palm oil free breakfast
Choose pure ingredients
Pure honey, 100% maple sryup
Real butter or Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Organic Butter; not margarine or imitation butter
Pure cinammon such as Red Ape Cinammon’s Premium Ground Cinammon which is certified palm oil free.
Watch for milk
Whatever milk you choose, be sure there isn’t Vitamin A Palmitate added.
We can’t always make food from scratch. It’s important to read labels before buying anything. There are palm oil free options available.
Be loyal to palm oil free brands
When you find some palm oil free breakfast items that you enjoy, keep buying them.
Prep in advance
Try to make breakfast foods in advance so you can enjoy them all week.
Make a batch of pancakes, waffles, or French toast.
Cook up a package of bacon to enjoy for several days.
Cut up a watermelon or pineapple; wash berries in advance.
Make a frittata.
Hard-boil a dozen eggs so you can grab and go.
Cook several cups of quinoa so you can quickly add fresh fruit and nuts.
If you can plan to make and freeze breakfast foods in advance, you will have them when you need them.
Breakfast without palm oil
Once you get into the habit, it’s easy to have breakfast without palm oil. You can change it up with different choices each day. It’s mostly about knowing where palm oil is hidden and making some easy substitutions.
Do you have ideas for palm oil free breakfasts? Why do you avoid palm oil? Please Comment below so we can all learn from each other.