By Jenn Harris
5:22 PM EDT, September 13, 2013
The Rainforest Action Network, an organization that campaigns for the world's rain forests, is on a mission to rid your snack food of what it calls "conflict palm oil." And it's naming some of America's most popular snack food companies, including Pepsi, Campbell's Soup and General Mills among its 20 worst "conflict palm oil" users. But some of these companies say they're part of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an organization that works to promote the use of sustainable palm oil.
The new campaign is an attempt to save orangutans, an animal that could become extinct if its homes are destroyed by palm oil plantations in areas such as Indonesia. RAN claims the biggest threat to the animals is the palm oil you purchase at your local grocery store in the form of ice cream, crackers, cereal, chocolate, cake mixes, potato chips, frozen meals, dry and canned soup, cookies and more.
"In the 21st century, customers don’t want to buy crackers and cookies that are responsible for pushing the world’s last wild orangutans to extinction and for horrifying child labor violations," said Lindsey Allen, the executive director of Rainforest Action Network in a release. That’s why Rainforest Action Network is putting these top 20 snack food companies using 'conflict palm oil' on notice..."
The organization released the names of what it calls The Snack Food 20 at a recent protest at the Chicago Board of Trade. The companies included Campbell Soup Co.; ConAgra Foods Inc.; Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc.; General Mills Inc.; Grupo Bimbo; Hillshire Brands Co.; H.J. Heinz Co.; Hormel Foods Corp.; Kellogg Co.; Kraft Food Group Inc.; Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Corp.; Mars Inc.; Mondelez International Inc.; Nestle S.A.; Nissin Foods Holdings Co.; PepsiCo Inc.; Hershey Co.; J.M. Smucker Co.; Toyo Suisan Kaisha Ltd.; and Unilever.
According to the RAN report, these companies have no way of ensuring its palm oil was produced without destroying any rain forest, causing carbon pollution or human rights abuses. It also claims the Snack Food 20 have enough influence to demand Cargill and other large palm oil traders to use acceptable practices when producing their products.
"While we are working in a number of regions to convert to oils that are low in saturated fat, in some parts of the world, palm oil is often our only option," said Aurora Gonzalez, a PepsiCo spokesperson. "When we do purchase palm oil, we look for suppliers that operate responsibly and in a sustainable manner."
Gonzalez also noted that PepsiCo is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, and the company has committed to purchase exclusively 100% certified sustainable palm oil for PepsiCo products by 2015.
A spokesperson for General Mills also said the company only purchases palm oil from RSPO members and has "integrated responsible palm oil procurement guidelines into our sourcing strategies."