Are you avoiding palm oil for dietary or environmental reasons? If so, it’s important to know the names for palm oil derivatives.
My son has a palm oil allergy and palm oil intolerance. He experiences allergy symptoms and gets sick from anything with palm oil in it. This includes foods and non-foods.
As I learned about palm oil and how it affected my son, Bev Luff from the Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Programme (POFCAP) was a complete blessing to me and my family. Because of Bev Luff’s research, I learned that there are over 1,000 names for palm oil ingredients.
As we were working through my son’s reactions from palm oil and trying to keep him safe, we eliminated all processed foods. We learned it was for sure palm oil that was making him sick. But as I added more packaged foods back into his diet, sometimes he was still having allergic reactions and getting sick, even when “palm oil” wasn’t on the label.
I found Bev Luff’s list of alternative names for palm oil. She helped me learn to avoid other common names for palm oil. Living in the United States, some of the common ingredients in foods that contain palm oil are Mono- & Diglycerides, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, and Tocopherols. These were making him sick. I’m forever grateful to Bev Luff for her research.
In addition to foods, we had to change his soap, toothpaste, and other products that contained palm oil. Once we eliminated the palm oil ingredients, he was completely fine.
Through all of this, our household has become much healthier. We eat more real, whole foods and much less processed foods. Overall, we use products with less ingredients.
Names for palm oil derivatives
Table of Contents
After years of research, Bev Luff and the International Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Programme continues to research and update their extensive list of alternative names for palm oil.
They have researched and found over 1,000 names for palm oil and palm oil derivatives. They reference them when they are qualifying products for Palm Oil Free Certification. Companies can apply and have their products certified Palm Oil Free.
Use Bev Luff’s list of palm oil ingredients as a resource to learn more about how palm oil is used to make hundreds of ingredients. The list can help consumers and companies find palm oil free alternatives.
You can print out the names for palm oil which is from all of Ms. Luff’s and POFCAP’s research. It will help you find hidden palm oil when “palm oil” and “palm” isn’t spelled out.
“Palm” in the name means it’s made with palm oil
Looking over ingredient labels to see if you see anything with “palm” in the name is a great place to start.
Palm = Palm Oil
Read ingredient labels
If you want to support palm oil free products and companies, check the ingredients in foods, cleaning products, medicine, and personal-care items, including toothpaste, soap, cosmetics and beauty products, shampoo, shaving cream, and lip balm.
If it has an ingredient label, review it for palm oil and palm oil derivatives.
You can print out a copy of POFCAP’s list, and bring it with you, or reference it from your phone.
Alternative names for palm oil
Of course, we won’t always be able to check ingredient labels against a list of hundreds of names for palm oil. That’s why it’s important to learn some of the common prefixes and ingredient names for palm oil.
Once you are in the habit of reading labels, it will get much easier, especially when you buy certain products. As an example, in consumables such as cereal and milk, you will learn to look for Vitamin A Palmitate. In ice cream, you will know to look for palm oil, palm kernel oil, and mono- and diglycerides.
Palm oil derivatives list
I worked with Bev Luff from POFCAP to learn more about how companies use palm oil. Use their research to help. Once you start recognizing the prefixes and letter combinations, you will see they are easy to spot on labels. You will often see many combination clues in one ingredient name.
An example is a prevalent palm oil derivative called Polyethylene Glycol.
Polyethylene Glycol = poly + ethyl + glyc
Here are some letter combinations associated with palm oil derivatives.
Examples are Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylic Acid, and Capryloyl Glycine.
Some ingredients are Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Ethylhexanote, and Cetearyl Glucoside.
Examples are Cetyl Acetate, Cetyl Alcohol, and Cetyl Palmitate.
Emulsifier with a number
Manufacturers will list this ingredient as Emulsifier 470 or E470.
They are E304, E422, E430, E431, E432, E433, E434, E435, E436, E470, E470a, E470b, E471, E472, E472a, E472b, E472c, E472e, E472f, E473, E474, E475, E476, E477, E478, E479, E480, E481, E482, E483, E493, E494, E495
Instead of memorizing them, just avoid E numbers in the 400s.
Examples include Ethylene Glycol Monostearate, Ethyl Myristate, and Ethylhexylglycerin.
Some examples are Glycerin, Glycerine, Glycerol, and Glycol Distearate.
Remember, look for the letters in other parts of the words, not just the beginning. Examples: Ethylene Glycol Esters and Mono- and Diglycerides.
Some examples of ingredients are Isopropyl Acetate, Isoamyl Laurate, and Isopropyl Myristate.
You will see Laur’ as in Laureth-5, Laureth-16, etc. In other instances, you will see it listed as Lauryl Glucoside, Lauryl Lactate, and Laurel Myristate.
Examples include Myristate, Myristic Acid, and Myristyl Alcohol.
Words to look for include Octyl Palmitate, Octyl Stearate, and Octyldodecyl Myristate.
Look for ingredients including Oleic Acid, Oleyl Betaine, and Oleyl Myristate.
Know that when you see palm’ on its own or as part of a longer word, it is definitely made with palm oil. Some examples are: Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Organic Palm Oil, Palm Olein, Vitamin A Palmitate, Palmitic Acid, and Sodium Palmate.
When you see Poly’ with any of the other letter combinations, it’s likely palm oil. Examples include Polyethylene Glycol, Polysorbate-20, and Polyoxyethylene Glycol.
You will see Sodium along with another word. Some examples include Sodium Coco Sulphate, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), and Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate.
Some of these examples include Sorbitan Caprylate, Sorbitan Distearate, and Sorbitan Monoglyceride.
You may see Stear’ as a number, as in Steareth – 7 or Steareth – 10. It can also be listed without a number, as in Stearic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol, and Stearoyl Lactic Acid.
Examples include Tocotrienols (Vitamin E), Tocopherols (Vitamin E), and Tocopheryl Linoleate.
Palm oil names – Vegetable oil
Another tip from Bev Luff and POFCAP is when you see Vegetable Oil as an ingredient, and it doesn’t include the source, it may be palm oil.
A way to help know whether it is palm oil is to check the saturated fat count. According to Harvard Medical School, palm oil is high in saturated fat. So if it’s high, it may be palm oil.
Read about palm oil health.
List of palm oil derivatives
Once you get in the habit, you will learn how to find products without palm oil:
- Common prefixes and names for palm oil derivatives
- What products contain palm oil and derivatives
- Why manufacturers use palm oil in those products
Knowing the common names for palm oil derivatives is a great way to choose palm-free products.
See an example of how to find palm oil ingredients in our post featuring palm oil free candy and palm oil free cleaning products.
As stated above, remember to also print out POFCAP’s list of alternate names for palm oil to help you avoid the many ways companies use palm oil derivatives.
Other names for palm oil
To avoid palm oil products, it’s essential you check for alternative names for palm oil on the ingredient labels. There are hundreds of derivatives, but knowing the letter combinations to watch for makes it much easier.
When you read ingredient labels, you will start to learn the common names for palm oil and what products contain palm oil.
Also, looking for palm oil ingredients will become a lot easier once you know how manufacturers use palm oil. Then you can easily spot the different palm names and palm oil derivatives.
Please note, even if you don’t give up palm oil completely, are there easy ways to use less palm oil to lessen demand.
Check out this list of palm oil free products. Because we avoid palm oil completely in our house, I cook the majority of our foods and bake everything from scratch. See the list of what he eats with a palm oil allergy and the palm oil free personal care products he uses.
Thursday 16th of March 2023
I would like to add a few hidden names for palm oil.
After my child reacted to store made tortillas that contained propionic acid, I did a deep dive and discovered it is related to/or another name for Carboxylic acid (listed as Carboxylic Acid Soap within the spreadsheet listed below). Carboxylic Acid is also known as the following: Formic Acid, Acetic Acid (which is in a lot foods), propionic acid, and butyric acid.
I have also noted Microcrystalline Cellulose and Lactic Acid could be related to palm oil but I will have to research further. (Lactic acid seems harmless but it can be created off of many different foods….not sure if it’s a palm oil concern or not)
For reference, I use the PDF from the Orangutan Foundation International Alliance. ORANGUTANFOUNDATION.ORG.AU. You can find a list of the over 400 names for palm oil here. I have it downloaded on my phone, so I can reference it anytime. It has come in handy and is helpful. Just make sure to look throughout the list, reading each line fully, because sometimes there are many names and variations listed together. I have missed things by using the find option on the PDF.
Here’s to hoping the world will soon switch from Palm Oil to another more allergy friendly, Non-Seed oil!
Best of Luck!
Friday 17th of March 2023
Thanks for contributing so positively to this discussion. That's great you carry around a list and check ingredients. There are hundreds of names for palm oil derivatives.
Here is a pdf with alternate names for palm oil if this helps anyone else. Bev Luff with Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark (POFCAP) researched this extensively for years. They certify products palm oil free.
Friday 17th of March 2023
Thanks for researching and writing in with the ingredients.
Thursday 18th of August 2022
I have recently bought a canister of Premier Protein “100% Whey Protein Powder” (Vanilla Milkshake), believing it to be free of palm oil and its derivatives. I checked the ingredients and found acesulfame potasssium, sucralose, xantham gum, and “natural and artificial flavors.” I need it to build my strength back up, so I intend to keep it; but I wonder if any of the above ingredients are palm oil derived. I do not see any palm oil free certification on it, but I wonder if you could do some digging, or get someone else to do so. I intend to contact the company later and ask. Thank you for your excellent website! Sincerely, Phillip
Monday 22nd of August 2022
Please check with the company to see what they say. I do not know for sure, but I'm thinking the only thing that might contain it are the Natural Flavors. It's hard to know when companies don't spell out what make up their Natural Flavors.
I'm not very familiar with powders. However, I once bought what-I-thought-to-be a high-quality powdered gelatin to give to my son to help improve his gut. It ended up making him really sick. Palm oil makes him sick so I was thinking there was something in the powder that maybe wasn't labeled.
When companies apply for Palm Oil Free Certification, it makes it so much easier for consumers!
Friday 20th of May 2022
Hello! Thank you for your PDF. I give it to my doctors, product companies, restaurants, anyone I need to discuss my palm oil allergy with. I've had trouble with the PDF not including Natural Flavor or Flavor. Is there any chance you've had interest in updating your PDF to include more palm oil names like Natural Flavor and Flavor?
Saturday 21st of May 2022
Yes, that's a great idea. Natural Flavor listed on ingredient labels can contain palm oil. When I've contacted food companies about Natural Flavors, it's most often been Glycerin sourced from palm oil.
Monday 9th of May 2022
Kiss My Face no longer has any palm oil free sunscreens. I just confirmed with them. They sent me a link to their bar soaps claiming they were all palm oil free. I checked them all out and found these ingredients: Sodium Stearate, Glycerin, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Isoamyl Laurate, and Glyceryl Oleate.
I’m waiting for them to tell me what they are all derived from so we’ll see. I just wanted to give you a heads up about their sunscreen. It’s really hard to find suncare products without palm oil derivatives in it. That’s why I make my own. It’s really easy. Cheers!
Thursday 12th of May 2022
Also, if you would be willing to share your recipe for your palm oil free sunscreen, I'm sure others would appreciate it as much as I would. You can include it here or in the Comments section on the Sunscreen Without Palm Oil post. Thank you! Palm oil ingredients are in so many products, including sunscreens. :(
Thursday 12th of May 2022
Thank you for the info. We use Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap which contains just olive oil, water, and sea salt. When I researched Kiss My Face for my post about Soap Without Palm Oil, there were three that were truly palm oil free. That's good you know about all the ways palm oil hides in soap and other products. If you hear back from Kiss My Face, please write back here. Thank you!
Sunday 21st of October 2018
Thank you so much for creating this website! My son is allergic to tree nuts, coconut and palm. Palm is the hardest to decipher and it's in EVERYTHING. This website is so helpful
Monday 22nd of October 2018
Hi Jenny, Thank you for taking the time to comment. As you well know, it's very difficult finding palm oil free options. You are further challenged with the coconut and nuts. We hope you will refer back to our site often as we are continuously updating existing articles and researching new ones. We can tell by how many people view another one of our posts, "Palm Oil Allergy? Intolerance? Can You Be Allergic to Palm Oil?" that this is a growing concern. As demand and consumption continues to increase, we expect it to become even more prevalent. We will keep finding the supporting the brands that are palm oil free!