KUALA LUMPUR (June 19): The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) strongly urges retailers to remove all products and advertising materials displayed and sold that bear any discriminatory logos against palm oil, as it is against Malaysian law.
Retailers who fail to comply will have to face a hefty fine of RM250,000 or jail time not exceeding five years, the council said in a statement on Monday (June 19).
MPOC added the regulations under Section 69 of the Trade Description Act 2011 [Act 730] conspicuously prohibit any person in the course of any business or trade, or in any advertisement, to use any statement, expression, or indication that discriminates against or boycotts any oil palm products or palm oil goods.
“The regulations came into effect in March 2022 and after a year of grace period, its enforcement has now come in full force.
“Retail outlets that display and sell products labelled as 'No Palm Oil' (NPO) will face penalties if found guilty by enforcement officers of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living (KPDN),” MPOC said.
According to the MPOC CEO Belvinder Sron, discriminatory labels against palm oil can be found on products, including food, personal care, and household items.
These labels are commonly found on products that utilise fats and oils, including vegetable oils.
“However, it is disconcerting to note that some products, which do not require the use of vegetable oils or fats, bear these misleading labels, thereby conveying an inaccurate message about palm oil.
“Palm oil is the number one national commodity and plays a significant role in our economy and it should be protected as best as possible,” said Sron.
In a survey conducted by MPOC, it was found that 80 outlets in the Klang Valley region sell these products, with a concentration in high-end areas of the region.
MPOC said letters have been sent to the eight holding companies of the 80 outlets to draw their attention and urge them to take immediate action to comply with the regulations.
“The NPO label may appear in many other claims such as “Palm Oil Free”, “Without Palm Oil”, “No Palm Fat”, “Never Palm Oil”, and others, in English or in foreign languages.
“As found in the same survey, it may also appear as distinct logos, depicting orang utans or putting a slash or a cross mark across a picture of oil palm,” it added.
Sron added that while it is important to encourage sustainable and responsible practices within the palm oil industry, it is equally crucial to avoid creating a prejudiced narrative against this commodity as a whole.
“If all anti-palm oil efforts in the country are not addressed, palm-based products will continue to be denigrated and boycotted in the world market,” she added.