32 out of 33 local restaurant chains use cooking oil linked to haze

Singapore, 14 September 2016 – A survey conducted by People’s Movement to Stop Haze (PM.Haze) has revealed that 32 out of 33 famous restaurant chains in Singapore use palm oil. It is the main component of cooking oil and its unsustainable production is a major cause of the haze. This sparked the launch of the #GoHazeFree campaign to increase awareness of the widespread use of palm oil as cooking oil in restaurants and calls for restaurants to switch to haze-free palm oil.

In July this year, PM.Haze approached staff at well-known restaurants and discovered that while almost all of the restaurants use palm oil, none of it were haze-free. Staff members that PM.Haze spoke to said that they were unaware that palm oil is a key ingredient in the “vegetable oil” they use every day. A separate survey conducted earlier this year also found that less than 50% of the public is aware of the widespread use of palm oil in everyday products.

To address this issue, PM.Haze announced the launch of the #GoHazeFree campaign. A short video on the campaign website provides information on the issue and visitors can sign a pledge and share photos with the hashtag to ask restaurants to ‘go haze-free’. To date, the campaign is supported by 15 local organisations and groups, including Nature Society and Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES).

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“When the haze happened last year (2015), the first thing that crossed my mind was that this was not the future I want Margaret to inherit. The food that we were eating actually causes harm to her through the haze. I had to do something about it and that is when I decided to convert my talk into action and join the movement to stop haze.” – Benjamin Tay, manager of PM.Haze

Consumer action is needed to motivate businesses to change. Compared to other palm oil products, cooking oil is easily recognised and understood and its supply chain is simple, making it an ideal product to start with.

“In the past few months, we spoke to many businesses that use palm oil, but most businesses were reluctant to switch, citing the lack of consumer awareness and demand. We realised that consumers have to voice out their support for haze-free palm oil, in order to drive change in the businesses. Many of these businesses have a wide regional presence, and if they go haze-free, it can create a ripple effect across the entire region as their competitors follow suit,” declared Tan Yi Han, President of PM.Haze.

Based on PM.Haze’s analysis of existing palm oil production and certification processes, the palm oil that is certified by Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) under the segregated supply chain model is found to be closest to haze-free. When sold as cooking oil, the packaging carries the RSPO-certified label. PM.Haze has developed a palm oil policy template for companies and has put together a list of suppliers of RSPO-certified cooking oil. Restaurants, as well as other food outlets and supermarkets selling housebrand cooking oil can go haze-free by committing to a palm oil policy with a time-bound implementation plan to procure only haze-free palm oil and switch their current supply to RSPO-certified sources.

About PM.Haze

People’s Movement to Stop Haze (PM.Haze) is a local non-government organisation. PM.Haze aims to empower people with the knowledge, values and means to be drivers of global action to stop the haze and ultimately attain clean air for present and future generations. PM.Haze holds outreach events and campaigns to promote the awareness of the causes and solutions to the haze.

For more information on haze-free cooking oil guide and palm oil policy template, please visit http://pmhaze.org/take-action/switch-to-haze-free-cooking-oil/

For enquiries, please contact Zhang Wen (Ms.) at [email protected].