| Penguins support gorillas as biscuit makers respond to palm oil threat|
|Penguins are coming to the aid of gorillas, according to a survey which reveals that the UK's leading biscuit manufacturers are responding to the environmental threats of palm oil production.|
Many of the biggest names in biscuits including Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's and United Biscuits – which makes some of the UK's most popular biscuits including McVitie's Digestive and Penguin – have pledged to reduce the amount of palm oil in their products.
The Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) and Ethical Consumer magazine together surveyed over 50 of the UK's biggest biscuit manufacturers about their use of palm oil or its derivatives.
The top scoring companies were the Co-op, M&S, Sainsbury's, Waitrose and United Biscuits. Those at the bottom of the ranking were mostly American-based companies including Asda/Walmart, PepsiCo and Kraft, makers of Ritz and Oreo biscuits.
The project was carried out in response to the increasing threat that palm oil production is posing to the world's rainforest and to the people that rely on these forests for their livelihoods. Palm oil is a core ingredient in many food products but companies are not required by EU law to label products containing it until December 2014.
Having destroyed vast areas of forest in countries including Indonesia, which is home to orangutans, the RFUK says palm oil companies are now planning to expand into the rainforests of the Congo basin in Africa, home to lowland gorillas and other threatened primates. Palm oil companies are also partly responsible for the recent devastating forest fires in Sumatra, which caused pollution episodes in Malaysia and Singapore.
Simon Counsell, executive director of The Rainforest Foundation, UK said: "UK biscuit manufacturers and retailers are showing that it is possible to outright reduce the use of palm oil, which is going to have to occur globally if large areas of Africa's rainforests are to be saved from conversion to palm plantations."
Leonie Nimmo, researcher at Ethical Consumer, added: "This survey clearly shows that environmental campaigning is having a positive impact on the palm oil policies of many companies which is something we wholeheartedly support. Consumers now have a choice in buying biscuits which are reducing the risks to both people and wildlife."