Oregon Zoo to only sell food made with responsibly produced palm - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon Zoo to only sell food made with responsibly produced palm oil

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Vivian, a Malayan sun bear, climbs a log at the Oregon Zoo. Sun bears are one of many species threatened by deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations. Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo. Vivian, a Malayan sun bear, climbs a log at the Oregon Zoo. Sun bears are one of many species threatened by deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations. Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Sweet treats, snacks and other food products sold at the Oregon Zoo will now only be made with responsibly produced palm oil.

The zoo announced a new purchasing plan Monday to only sell products containing palm oil from companies that are working to address the negative impacts of the palm oil industry.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, to develop the vast palm tree plantations required to meet the global demand, tropical forests are clear-cut at the expense of endangered orangutans, tigers, Asian elephants and other species.

Some companies are now taking steps to grow palm oil more responsibly, according to the Oregon Zoo, including planting on degraded land instead of forests and growing higher-yield crops.

In 2014, Oregon Zoo staff inventoried all food products sold at the zoo and identified 40 items that were either known or suspected to contain palm oil.

Most were made by companies that had already joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an organization working to address negative impacts of the palm oil industry, but 11 items weren’t.

Food service staff then worked with vendors to eliminate those products, including Maruchan’s instant noodles, and identify either non-palm oil or RSPO-member alternatives.

Zoo managers said the majority of palm oil use in products sold at the zoo is in candy, cookies and other snacks.

"In one case, a vendor called us after we had stopped using the product, Cookies and Cream Dippin’ Dots, to let us know the company that creates Oreo cookies, Mondelez International, had since joined the RSPO," said the zoo’s food and beverage manager, John Sterbis. "That meant we could start ordering them again, but more importantly, it meant vendors were responding positively to public requests to use deforestation-free palm oil."

The zoo is now embarking on the second phase of its palm oil purchasing plan, including an exploration of how to incentivize companies that have gone beyond the RSPO to make significant progress toward deforestation-free palm oil.

Four of the companies — Mars, Hershey, Kellogg and Mondelez — already rank among the best in terms of their efforts to cut deforestation from their palm oil supply chains, according to the Oregon Zoo.

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