Iceland Foods has responded to claims that it is continuing to use palm oil in its own label food, explaining that no lines produced after 31st December 2018 contain the ingredient.

Responding to media suggestions that the retailer is continuing to sell own-brand products containing palm oil, despite making a pledge last year to remove the ingredient, a spokesperson for Iceland said: “We committed to stop using palm oil as an ingredient in Iceland own label food by the end of 2018, and this promise has been fulfilled.

“No lines produced after 31st December 2018 contain it as an ingredient.”

Iceland also responded to reports that fresh food products containing palm oil are still available to buy online, stating: “If there is fresh food on our website that is labelled as still containing palm oil, this is a website issue and our team are working quickly to resolve it.

“There are no Iceland own label fresh items available that still contain palm oil.”

To prevent food waste, Iceland has explained that some own label lines made before the supermarket completed its removal of palm oil as an ingredient, remain on sale until stocks are exhausted.

These are mainly in the categories of frozen desserts and frozen pastry products, which have a longer shelf life than fresh and chilled food lines.

Iceland added that the number will vary from store to store depending on their rate of sale, which will also determine when its sell-through is completed. However, the retailer expects this to be achieved within the next few weeks.

New stocks of these lines coming into stores that were made after 31st December 2018 will be clearly marked with its ’No Palm Oil’ flash.”

When approached by Food Management Today for comment, Iceland stated: “Our pledge was to remove palm oil from our own label products, which we have done. We have always said that we would continue to stock branded products containing palm oil.

“We have to sell through product that has already been produced: the only alternative would be to throw it away, causing needless food waste. Frozen food cannot be donated to food banks or FareShare. This involves fewer than 28 frozen lines, which are not in every store.

“We have worked tirelessly to remove palm oil from our own label food, and have invested millions of pounds to do so.

“Removing palm oil represents a huge technical challenge: it is not simply a matter of switching to a substitute ingredient.

In many cases the manufacturer has to change its production equipment and processes, often at considerable cost, and this is not something that can be accomplished overnight.”