October 28th, 2013
11:00 AM ET
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When Americans hand out Halloween candy this week they may inadvertently be contributing to the destruction of orangutan habitat thousands of miles away.

But don't feel guilty. Instead, do something about it.

Many types of Halloween candy - and lots of other packaged foods in the United States - contain palm oil, much of which is farmed in Malaysia and Indonesia, where orangutans live. Wild forests that support the endangered orangutan are being chopped down and burned to grow geometric rows of trees that ultimately produce oil.

The use of palm oil in processed foods is way, way up in part because it doesn't contain trans fat, which the United States says must be labeled on food packaging because of its unhealthiness. The U.S. imports about 10 times as much palm oil now as it did in the mid-1990s. It's not that the oil is evil. It's that production methods need to change.

"Orangutans are just so compelling," said Laurel Sutherlin, a spokesman for the Rainforest Action Network, which recently released a report called "Conflict Palm Oil." The report links irresponsible palm oil production to modern slavery and climate change - in addition to the destruction of orangutan habitat.

Read - Halloween candy for orangutans

The bitter truth behind the chocolate in your Easter basket

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Filed under: Animal Rights • Climate Change • Environment • Halloween • Sustainability

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soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. VA

    Thank you CNN for helping consumers make intelligent food choices.

    October 29, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  2. Sarah

    Thank you for shedding light on this important issue! Please consider including some easy actions people can take next time. hopefully more and more people are becoming aware of the palm oil issue!

    October 29, 2013 at 1:17 am |
  3. willard

    The Communist News Network does it again.

    October 28, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • VA

      A free press and consumers' shopping habits have nothing to do with communism nor socialism.

      October 29, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  4. betty Jeane Murphy

    slowwwwwwly...ever so slowly the word is being spread throughout the media...Thank you CNN for addressing two very important issues this month....BLACKFISH and PALM OIL/Orangutans/rainforest destruction....

    October 28, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  5. travelingmarla

    Reblogged this on Traveling MarLa and commented:
    There are also good articles on this by Lori over at Africa Inside. What will you be handing out this Halloween?

    October 28, 2013 at 11:40 am |
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