I looked at a label on a bottle of Centrum vitamins that I bought a few weeks ago. Right there buried among the other hard-to-pronounce ingredients is “hydrogenated palm oil.” Angered that I bought it without looking for palm oil first, I tried to contact Pfizer about the source of their palm oil. Unfortunately, they don’t accept emails so I had to talk to a nice, polite customer service rep — who had nothing to say, not deviating too much from her script.
After I gave my spiel about the evils of palm oil and how demand is destroying Indonesian/Malaysian rainforests, killing critically endangered species, displacing humans, and exacerbating global warming, all the Pfizer rep could tell me was that the ingredients of their vitamins is “proprietary” and they couldn’t reveal from where they source it. When she asked if I wanted a refund, I told her the lousy $9 I spent was the least of my worries — I cared more about the orangutans, Sumatran tigers and Sumatran pygmy elephants who are killed everyday because they get in the way of palm oil plantations and their profits. (To that she said, “Well, sorry.”)
So put that information in your purchasing decision pipe and smoke it. I’ll be boycotting Centrum and any other Pfizer product that contains palm oil from now on. Proprietary my ass? If they were proud of their environmental record they’d tout it, like every other major corporation in an attempt to “greenwash” their environmental misdeeds.
UPDATE: I’d forgotten that I’d already published a piece on Pfizer’s palm oil use back in March 2012. Here’s that link. Says the same thing, though:
- Kroger Turns to Sustainable Palm Oil to Protect Forests (sustainablebusiness.com)
- Why ‘RSPO Sustainable Palm Oil’ is not responsible (understory.ran.org)