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Last year the RSPO reviewed and updated its Rules on Market Communications & Claims (the Rules). This included deciding how RSPO should respond to negative ‘No Palm Oil’ product claims made by members. Following a process of consultation, discussion and review by the Claims & Communications Standing Committee and RSPO secretariat, followed by a public consultation, the revised Rules were approved by the RSPO Board of Governors in June 2015.
It is now mandatory for RSPO members to “avoid negative claims and seek to promote the aims and goals of RSPO”. A Negative Claim is defined by the RSPO as any claim which “conflicts with the stated aims of the RSPO and/or implies that the removal of palm oil from a product is a preferable social or environmental sustainability outcome to the use of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil”.
A Negative Claim is defined in this way so as to keep the Rules within the mandate and the mission of the RSPO, which is focused on minimising social and environmental impacts of palm oil production and achieving sustainability outcomes. For this reason, the RSPO does not have a mandate to engage in the public debate on nutrition and palm oil, nor to comment on National Governments’ regulation pertaining to the legality of product claims related to the removal of specific ingredients.
Concurrently the Rules have made it easier for members, including retailers, to obtain their license to use the RSPO Trademark for on-product claims which promote the use of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. The Rules also ban the use of alternative logos to highlight the presence of RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. The Rules also introduced an additional category of claims for products containing between 50% and 95% of sustainable palm oil. These changes were made to stimulate demand for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil by encouraging the use of the RSPO trademark and on-product claims.
Members have until 1st September 2016 to comply with these new rules. Thereafter Certification Bodies will check for claims compliance during audits of Certified Members. Recourse to the RSPO Complaints Panel will also be available if there is evidence of non-compliance on claims made by any RSPO member, independently on the member’s RSPO Certification status. RSPO members who make false or misleading claims will face sanctions under the Rules.
Contacts for RSPO Secretariat: