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Zoos push on food label issues

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/08/2016

New Zealand's four major zoos are pushing for clear labelling of food products containing sustainably produced palm oil.

The wild homes of critically endangered species like Sumatran tigers and orangutans are at risk from deforestation, as large areas of their habitat are cleared to make way for large unsustainable palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia, the zoos say.

Auckland Zoo, Hamilton Zoo, Wellington Zoo and Orana Wildlife Park say they've joined with Unmask Palm Oil to push for clearer labelling of food so consumers can make choices that will ultimately save animals in the wild.

They're pushing for the use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), which involves the certification of palm oil plantations to ensure they are deforestation free.

Palm oil is estimated to be in about half of all products available in supermarkets and currently only has to be labelled on food as vegetable oil.

"By pushing for CSPO and demanding clear labelling, we can make sure that the problem doesn't shift to other parts of the world and onto oils which are less productive than palm oil, therefore requiring more land," says Unmask Palm Oil founder Ben Dowdle.

Mandatory labelling will mean consumers can make informed choices about the products they buy, he says.

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