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Palm Oil's Dirty Secret: The Many Ingredient Names For Palm Oil


Did you see the palm oil infographic we released today? I hope so! If you haven't seen it yet, check it out.

Were you shocked to find out that palm oil is in half of the products in your pantry? Yep, that's right, palm oil is in roughly 50% of all packaged goods, from cookies, peanut butter, and breakfast cereal to cleaning products, laundry detergent, lipstick, and body lotion.

Are you wondering how that's possible, because you don't see the words "palm oil" on many of the ingredient labels in your pantry?

Here's the scoop: Palm oil is often disguised, hidden behind many different ingredient names you probably don't recognize when you go to your pantry or bathroom to check. To make things even more confusing for you as a consumer, sometimes companies will only disclose ingredients like "vegetable oil," and though that vegetable oil blend likely contains palm oil, it's not always a labeling requirement.

To help you navigate these confusing waters and avoid unwittingly voting for rainforest destruction with your dollars, here is a partial list of other names for palm oil-derived ingredients:*

  • PKO - Palm Kernel Oil
  • PKO fractionations: Palm Kernel Stearin (PKs); Palm Kernel Olein (PKOo)
  • PHPKO - Partially hydrogenated Palm Oil
  • FP(K)O - Fractionated Palm Oil
  • OPKO - Organic Palm Kernel Oil
  • Palmitate - Vitamin A or Asorbyl Palmitate (NOTE: Vitamin A Palmitate is a very common ingredient in breakfast cereals and we have confirmed 100% of the samples we've investigated to be derived from palm oil)
  • Palmate
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate (Can also be from coconut)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphates (can also be from ricinus oil)
  • Sodium dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
  • Elaeis Guineensis
  • Glyceryl Stearate
  • Stearic Acid
  • Chemicals which contain palm oil
  • Steareth -2
  • Steareth -20
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (coconut and/or palm)
  • Hydrated palm glycerides
  • Sodium isostearoyl lactylaye (derived from vegetable stearic acid)
  • Cetyl palmitate and octyl palmitate (names with palmitate at the end are usually derived from palm oil, but as in the case of Vitamin A Palmitate, very rarely a company will use a different vegetable oil)

*Disclaimer: Through research we've found that Vitamin A Palmitate can be derived from any combination of vegetable oil such as olive, coconut, canola and/or palm oil. Though in all the cases we've documented, companies use palm oil to make derivatives like Vitamin A Palmitate, it can be tricky to know for sure.

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  • Mitch Feller
    commented 2019-03-15 17:05:13 -0700
    Very good information. Tk you.
  • 선우 박
    commented 2018-05-13 09:22:00 -0700
    I’ll voycot
  • 재하 양
    commented 2018-05-13 09:07:41 -0700
    Me too
  • 혜우 박
    commented 2018-05-13 08:46:07 -0700
    I’m in
  • Ron Hanson
    commented 2018-01-04 03:05:59 -0800
    I am on my husbands ipad. My name is Lesley and I have been boycotting palm oil for a couple of years now. I get really frustrated when I think I’ve found a product without palm oil and then discover that it has a sneaky name sounding nothing like palm oil. I’ve been using Steamcream and just discovered it contains stearic acid. So disappointed! I’ve just started the veganuary challenge so I am reading lots of labels again. Thanks to Rainforest Action Network for this article. I will share, share, share.
  • Kevin George
    commented 2017-11-25 17:54:44 -0800
    I cut this out of my diet, originally for a different reason, I have Eosinophilic Esophagitis (allergic esophagitis), that causes rings to form in my esophagus, leading to blockage that can be life threatening. Part of discovering what you’re allergic too is going on a special diet elimination diet, I wasn’t successful but then I started focusing on what foods tended to aggravate my more immediate symptoms (sore throat, nausea, IBS, etc.) The only ingredient in common Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Palmitate, etc. Before eliminating it from my diet, I had to have two surgeries and to drink massive amounts of liquid steroids to the point it made me even sicker. Since I’ve taken steps to eliminate it from my diet, I no longer take the steroids and haven’t needed any more surgeries. It’s infuriating that they can get away with trying to disguise the fact this is in our food. It ought to be criminal on that alone, but its also sickening that its damaging the environment.
  • Sally Fields
    commented 2017-09-25 12:52:27 -0700
    Where is palm oil made? Wondering how this effects the environment across different parts of the US, like in Sarasota—
  • Renan Mazucante
    commented 2017-06-25 18:07:03 -0700
    In brazil palm oil has been very important for local economy..thanks for sharing this information!
  • Line Jacques
    commented 2016-11-28 23:10:57 -0800
    Happy to share this information. We don’t want palm oil in our house,food ,drink, hair, cereal, vitamin etc. To boycott palm oil we have to do it together. Thanks for the info
  • Christine Austin
    commented 2016-05-21 12:36:09 -0700
    The work that you are doing is so important. More people should know about palm oil and its disastrous effects on the rainforest and the environment.
  • Kaitlyn McKee
    commented 2016-03-04 18:44:57 -0800
    Use this to know how to identify palm oil on ingredient labels on food, soaps, cosmetics or body care. Thank you Rainforest Action Network!