KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet has approved a regulation to ban the usage of any product labels that are negative about palm oil, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister said that the prohibition includes product labels that read "palm oil-free","does not contain palm oil" or "no palm oil".
"The ministry proposed to come up with a regulation that prohibits the use of any negative labels or expression involving palm oil.
"This proposal has been brought to the Cabinet on October 18 and agreed upon by the members.
"This move is also in line with the government's objective of supporting the palm oil industry via the Sayangi Sawitku (Love My Palm Oil) campaign," he told reporters in a joint press conference at Parliament on Thursday (Oct 31).
He said the regulation can be in the form of an Act or a ruling and that the plan is to get it done as soon as possible following engagement with stakeholders.
He said that through the ministry's checks in 2,609 premises nationwide, enforcement officers had found 12 products with labels such as "palm oil-free" or "does not contain palm oil".
Most of them are imported goods, said Saifuddin, adding that vendors were advised not to display the products with palm oil negative labels for sale.
He said that while these products are no longer on the supermarket shelves after being advised by the ministry's enforcement officers, there was a need to introduce a regulation as a cautionary measure in the future.
Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said most of the labels were used as a marketing gimmick by European manufacturers to paint a negative picture of palm oil.
She gave an example of a peanut butter brand that carried the label "palm oil-free" although palm oil is not even a necessary ingredient in peanut butter.
"The negative perception and claims are untrue and give a bad impression to palm oil-based products without being supported by scientific evidence," said Kok.
She also said that Indonesia, the largest palm oil manufacturer in the world, had a similar law in place to protect its palm oil industry, whereby it has banned food labelled as being "palm oil-free".
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