Yum! Brands commits to sourcing deforestation and peat free palm oil

Yum! Brands, the second-largest fast-food giant in America thanks to its KFCTaco Bell and Pizza Hut brands, became the latest food company to commit to sourcing deforestation- and peat-free palm oil.

“Yum! is still committed to implementing its global nutritional policy that includes removal of palm oil as cooking oil in restaurants by 2017. In extenuating circumstances and by exception, markets that will not meet our nutrition policy timeline will have a plan in place to source 100% sustainable palm oil by the end of 2017.

“Yum! Brands seems to have good intentions with this commitment, which will require the company to buy palm oil exclusively for cooking purposes that protects all forests and peatlands, swampy areas of carbon-rich soil. An upshot of the commitment is that it includes all cooking oil used in Yum! Brands’ restaurants across the globe,” said Lael Goodman, an analyst with UCS’s Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative. “The problem is that palm oil is also a common ingredient in some the company’s baked goods and sauces — products that are prepared by a third-party vendor — and are not covered under the commitment. This is where the commitment loses steam.

“Fast-forward to January 2018, when the commitment goes into effect,” Goodman continued. “If I’m eating a KFC meal including the Colonel’s Original Recipe fried chicken with a biscuit and gravy, Yum! Brands’ failure to expand their commitment to all palm oil uses means my finger lickin’ good chicken isn’t linked to deforestation, but my biscuit and gravy does not come with the same assurances.”

Palm oil is a common ingredient in products ranging from face cream to fast foods.Harmful carbon emissions are released when land is deforested to make way for oil palm plantations. In total, about 10 percent of all global warming emissions result from tropical deforestation.