I bought some more handwash from L'Occitane yesterday and this reminded me that I haven't had either an e-mail response or a reply to my snail mail letter to them. I have only heard third hand through anecdotal evidence that most of their ranges are palm oil free. So, when making my purchase I asked the shop assistant if she could confirm the UK head office address. After a brief discussion of why I wanted it, she brought the Manager over who was surprised to hear I hadn't had any reply. She wrote the address down and told me that if I still didn't get any response to pop back in and she would take it up with her Regional Manager.
We had a discussion about the ethics of the company and I understand that they do try to be ethical and she said that she was certain that if they do use palm oil in any product it will be sustainable. I expressed my doubts about sustainable palm oil and I think she understood my position on zero-tolerance being the only thing that is going to stop palm oil producers ripping the forest up.
I'm afraid I forgot (again) to go into Boots yesterday to see if they stock the No Flakin' Way shampoo (we haven't run out of Head & Shoulders so not urgent at the moment).
I have however, received a response from Sainsbury's which I'm both happy with and unhappy about! On their own-brand anti-dandruff shampoo, two ingredients may be derived from palm oil (they don't say which two) but anyway, they can't say it's palm oil free so I won't be using that.
On dishwasher tablets, the Sainsbury's own brand do NOT contain any palm oil so am switching to those from Finish as I still haven't heard from Reckitt & Benckiser about theirs.
On the beef, the letter contains this paragraph:
I have contacted our technologists and received the following information. The palm oil is used on the beef to soften the fat at lower temperatures and this ensures the beef is malleable when it is being used. There are few oils which perform well at low temperatures, and we are currently looking for alternatives
I'm happy that they're looking for alternatives, but not happy that they're using palm oil to make the beef malleable (for malleable, I interpret this as tender). As we in Britain have been eating beef for thousands of years without palm oil, it seems daft to be including it now when palm oil has only really started to come to the fore for food use in the last decade (due to all the furore a few years ago about trans fats). As was mentioned in the comments section when I first raised this, the maturation process should tenderise the meat anyway. Nope, can't let them get away with that so will be writing another letter just to make that point.