Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution and Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok have jointly announced that the government wants to come up with a new regulation to ban any negative labels against palm oil from being displayed on products in the market.
"As we know, there are products imported from overseas with all sorts of phrases or symbols with the label 'palm oil-free', 'no palm oil' or any other phrases against palm oil.
"To ensure these products with the words 'palm oil-free', 'no palm oil' and similar phrases will no longer be sold, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry plans to create a regulation that bans the usage of any phrases or symbols against palm oil.
"This suggestion has been brought to the cabinet and they have agreed," Saifuddin said in a press conference at Parliament today.
He further explained that this regulation may not necessarily become an act and they will have to study this matter in detail and have engagement sessions with stakeholders first.
He also said he hopes this regulation will be implemented as soon as possible.
Kok said her ministry fully supports this initiative and is committed to working together with Saifuddin’s ministry to introduce this regulation.
"Hopefully, this regulation will prevent acts that will damage the reputation of Malaysian palm oil specifically, as well as the image of Malaysia on the international stage in general," she said.
The palm oil industry is one of the main contributors to the country’s economy, Kok noted, but it has recently been unfairly linked to deforestation and loss of biodiversity.
"These negative assumptions and accusations are untrue and give a negative perception towards palm oil-based products that are not supported by accurate scientific facts," she added.
Saifuddin said his ministry had conducted checks on 2,609 premises and found 12 products with negative labelling against palm oil.
The ministry advised these premises to remove the products in question, and Saifuddin said subsequent checks by his ministry found that the 12 products were no longer on shelves.
However, the proposed regulation is meant to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, he said.
Meanwhile, Kok said such negative labelling against palm oil were usually "marketing gimmicks" targeted to the European market.
For example, she said, peanut butter does not normally have palm oil as part of its ingredients, thus there is no need to purposefully have the "no palm oil" label on it.