Palm oil in gingernuts' 'old English recipe'

GINGERNUTS: Long a favourite of New Zealand consumers.
GINGERNUTS: Long a favourite of New Zealand consumers.

Griffin's Gingernuts' "old English recipe" uses the controversial ingredient palm oil, and has done so for decades.

Weeks after Cadbury was forced to back down and stop using palm oil in its chocolate after a massive consumer backlash, Griffin's has admitted the oil goes into all its products, including New Zealand's favourite gingernut.

Green Party spokeswoman on food, health and wellbeing Sue Kedgley said palm oil extraction is responsible for an area the size of 300 football fields being deforested in Malaysia and Indonesia every hour.

"Mystery surrounds it [palm oil] as there's no requirement to declare it on a label," she said.

Griffin's biscuit packets say only that the contents are baked using vegetable oil.

The use of palm oil by Griffin's has outraged one Palmerston North woman in her seventies.

"They are using palm oil and have done for years in Gingernuts.

"They are pussy-footing around with us ... It's not good for your body," said the woman, who asked not to be named.

Griffin's public relations adviser Carolyn Hobson said most biscuit products on the market are made with palm oil.

Palm oil had been used in Griffin's products for 15 to 20 years and Griffin's would not use it if it had any concerns about its impact on people's health or the environment.

When asked why the use of palm oil was not stated on biscuit packets, Miss Hobson said Griffin's followed food safety guidelines.

But the Palmerston North woman who alerted the Manawatu Standard to the use of palm oil in Gingernuts said she was going to break her habit of a lifetime and no longer eat Griffin's products.

"I don't even feel inclined to ... give them to the birds at this rate.

"The bin is the place for them."

ER, THANKS

The Manawatu Standard rang Griffins' 0800 customer phone number to enquire about the use of palm oil and was told no plants were harmed in the making of Gingernuts.

"We have been using palm oil for the last 15 to 20 years we purchase it from sustainable sources," the customer services representative said.

When asked if Griffins was concerned about the health effects of palm oil, the rep said, unlike some oils, it contains no trans-fat.

"People do say that it's bad for you but there is a lot of other stuff that is worse," she said.

Manawatu Standard