The Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI) is urging the government to act swiftly against food products carrying the “Palm Oil-free” label that are currently can be found at certain outlets in Jakarta, its spokesman said on Monday (26/8).
“We appreciate the move taken by The Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) to prohibit the distribution of those Palm Oil-free labeled products. Based on our investigation, there are two kinds of products, the first is imported goods, and the other is locally made products,” Tofan Mahdi, head of GAPKI’s communications told The Palm Scribe.
Mahdi added that the imported goods did not originally carry such labels when they first entered the country, however, during its distribution process, the label was apparently added (with stickers).
“While for the local products, after we talked to their producers, they said it was only used as a marketing gimmick and they didn’t know that what they did is harmful to Indonesia’s palm oil industry, they have since apologized,” Mahdi said.
The Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) last week came out with a prohibition on the distribution of food and beverages carrying “Palm Oil-free” labels, saying that this did not comply with BPOM’s regulations. The products include nutmeg bars, granola energy bars, lemon biscuits, and biscotti.
“The National Agency for Drug and Food Control does not approve of the registration of products that include claims of being palm oil-free,” said the Head of BPOM, Penny Lukito, as quoted by local media last week.
According to BPOM, the inclusion of food product labels must comply with the Head of BPOM Regulation No. 31 of 2018, which says that label that is included in and or on food packaging must comply with the label approved at the time of the distribution permit.
According to Tofan Mahdi, this is not a new incident as the same case happened a few years ago in Jakarta and Bali.
“We understand that this is part of a black campaign to undermine the potential of Indonesian palm oil. This won’t be the last time,” he told The Palm Scribe.
Palm oil has come under attack, especially from non-palm oil producing countries, citing that the commodity was behind the ongoing massive deforestation in tropical countries. Critics however, have failed to mention that certified sustainable palm oil products existed and that any substitute crop would need much more land to be able to produce the same amount of oil as palm oil.