Monday, 17 August 2009

Tesco labelling response and toothpaste

I've received a response from Tesco concerning labelling and this is their reply:

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my previous email.

I appreciate that labelling the products which contain Palm Oil would be very beneficial to you and certainly help you in making your choices as to which products you can buy. Regrettably, this is not something we have any plans for at present.

However I can see from your email that you are finding it easier to purchase products from other retailers as they have the information that you need. I will be sure to pass on your further comments to our Head Office to let them know that the lack of information is causing you to shop elsewhere and this is something which will be looked at when planning future labelling reviews.

I would like to thank you again for taking the time to respond and if you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me again.

I have written to them again asking if my Tesco own brand hair mousse contains palm oil as I've run out and the ingredients are confusing - if I were buying this from the Co-Op's own brand, I could be sure it was palm oil free because of their honest labelling policy.

Additionally, I have read this article on Nature Watch (warning: website contains some upsetting photographs of orangutans in distress) and so, whilst I was writing to Tesco, have asked if they are adding palm oil to their diesel. Our car is diesel so I'll have to find out where my husband fills up and see if they are adding palm oil to their diesel.

There have been replies about toothpaste but I am having to write back for clarification on some points so will report on toothpaste when I've got conclusive points to make. At present though it's not looking good and as toothpaste is something I would be very loath to be without, I think I may fail to find an alternative but I'll keep you posted!

Friday, 7 August 2009

My first loaf

My first palm oil free loafHere it is then, my very first loaf made with flour from the Kirton Lindsey windmill. I was so proud of it ... til I cut it. It was all "doughey" inside, like it wasn't cooked all the way through so although it looks nice, it was 'orrible to eat! Far too heavy :-(

Typical me, I started big with a 2lb loaf. I think I'll get a smaller tin tomorrow when I'm in Cambridge and have a go at getting smaller ones right first. I don't think I cooked it for long enough. When I set the timer, I think I set it for the smaller one (recipe gives 3 sizes) and by the time I realised, I couldn't remember what I'd set it at and it looked done so I took it out.

I got a written response from Kingsmill in reply to my letter. They say they DID respond to my earlier e-mail and attached a copy ... but unfortunately, they failed to attach the copy e-mail!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Today - toothpaste

I am on the trail of palm oil free toothpaste today. I have found a shop called Animal Aid Shop and the page I have linked to has some toothpaste on it. I wrote to them last week and they tell me that they are very careful to buy products which do not contain palm oil wherever possible; they stock the Little Satsuma soaps, candles and palm-oil free fudge. They say their chocolates are fine, but some toiletries may contain palm oil.

They haven't specifically stated that the toothpaste is palm oil free but the ingredients are: Aqua, Glycerine (Veg), Creta praeparata, Xanthan gum, Commiphora myrrha, Asorbic acid, D-limolene, (from essential oils), Natural flavour oils. They further state that their toothpaste does not contain Sodium lauryl sulphate, fluorides or Parabens. So I can't find any of the usual suspects in there but I have today discovered on Wikipedia that Glycerine is derived from vegetable oil so I may have to add that one to the list. Before I clarify with Animal Aid, I've written to Colgate, Aquafresh and GlaxoSmithKline (re: Macleans) to see if any of their toothpastes contain palm oil or palm oil derivatives. If any of these are OK, then I won't need to switch anyway.

I've had a very late response from Tesco, I wrote a follow up e-mail to them on 17 June complaining about how labelling was making it very difficult for me to avoid palm oil and suggesting that they could work with the WWF as they're doing a lot of research on their palm oil scorecard. As Tesco already have a database of all the products they sell in their store, it wouldn't be that much more work to add a field for palm oil so people could consult it on-line.

They thank me for writing and apologise for the delay in replying. They acknowledge my difficulty but say they have no plans to introduce a list of free from Palm Oil products.

Tesco have confirmed that two of their own brand products I specifically asked about (Tesco Baby Lotion and the Tesco Finest Greek Olive spread) do not contain palm oil. They offer to query further products if I write again. I was really hoping they might consider some kind of honest labelling policy like the Co-Op which I find really helpful and gives me confidence when buying Co-Op own brand products. (I've therefore written to them to suggest it).

They say that they've fully logged my concerns and they feel that the work they are putting in to bring sustainable ingredients to the market place will stand them in good stead for the scorecard process. I hope the WWF penalise misleading "vegetable oil" labelling of their products when preparing their scorecard.