Labelling foods containing vegetable oil, including palm oil

When labelling food or drinks containing vegetable oil, including palm oil, you must name any allergen oils in full. You must also make sure all statements are true and not misleading.

Label requirements

In many cases, you may use the term 'vegetable oil' in an ingredient list, rather than naming the plant the oil comes from. But there are some exceptions.

Name allergen oils in full

If you use any of these oils, you must name them in full on your ingredient list:

  • lupin oil
  • peanut oil
  • sesame oil
  • tree nut oils, such as almond, brazil, cashew, chestnut, hickory, macadamia, pecan, pine nut, pistachio and walnut (not coconut oil)
  • unrefined soya bean (soybean) oil.

Allergen declarations, warning, and advisory statements

Palm oil labelling

If you sell palm oil on its own (for example, a bottle of pure palm oil), its name and description must be enough to show its true nature.

If you use palm oil as an ingredient, you may show it in an ingredient list as 'vegetable oil' or 'palm oil'. But there is an exception for dairy products. If you use palm oil in a dairy product, including ice cream, you must list it as 'palm oil'.

Truth in statements about palm oil

Some businesses address environmental concerns about palm oil on food labels or in advertising with statements like:

  • they use sustainably-sourced palm oil
  • they're a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
  • this product contains no palm oil.

Under the Fair Trading Act 1986, these statements must be true and not misleading.

What other rules apply to labelling food?

How to label food and drink

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