A viral social media campaign to boycott Woolworth’s hot cross buns in Australia is demonstrating the need for mandatory labelling of palm oil.

The picture posted by the Facebook page ‘Trees for Tommy’ shows the ingredients list of the hot cross buns in which palm oil is clearly labelled as an ingredient. The resulting boycott has seen thousands of people refuse to buy the product.

While it is quite right that consumers are refusing to buy a product containing palm oil, we do need to consider what consumers are buying instead. People are going to avoid Woolworths hot cross buns in favour of other options, but without labelling it is impossible to know which of these other options is using palm oil. Well intentioned consumers may well be avoiding one product that contains palm oil for another that also contains palm oil but doesn’t choose to label it.

This situation is why voluntary labelling will never work, transparent companies like Woolworths get bashed for being open and honest while other companies profit off hiding behind generic names and appearing to be palm oil free.

While we don’t support Woolworth’s choice to use palm oil in their products, we do commend them for choosing to label palm oil. Boycotts will only be effective once consumers can be certain the product they are buying instead does not contain palm oil and this will only happen with mandatory labelling.

Sign the petition here