Green parenting: Palm Oil as an Ingredient of Baby Formula

What kind of formula would you prefer for your baby: with or without palm oil? In all likelihood, without. The inclusion of palm oil in the product automatically makes it less attractive and cheaper in the eyes of the consumer (whether we like it or not) from a quality standpoint. Meanwhile, infant formula is the only product in the world in which it is legal to completely replace milk fat with vegetable fat, which includes palm oil.

Palm oil in baby food – what’s behind it? Why do some manufacturers use palm oil in their formulas while others exclude it and find substitutes?

Why is palm oil used in baby formula?

Breast milk has quite a lot of an ingredient, such as palmitic acid. The fatty component in the diet provides about 50% of the energy a baby needs. Therefore, fatty acids are essential in infant nutrition. In order to bring the composition of the formula closer to breast milk, the manufacturer finds the most palmitic acid-rich sources. At first glance, the most convenient of them is palm oil, as its composition has a very high percentage of palmitic acid – 39-47%. And since this is the case, the use of palm oil as a source of palmitic acid in the production of infant formulas is justified.

The first formula, in which the analog of breast milk fats was palm oil, was patented back in 1953 in the United States. 

Palm oil in milk formulas is considered a cheap substitute for fat. Is this true?

No other vegetable oil compares to palm oil in terms of palmitic acid content. That is why it is chosen as a source of palmitic acid. If palm oil is used in the formula, it is a quality raw material, properly processed and transported. The manufacturer does not skimp on this.

The palm oil in the baby food is of the highest quality possible. No conscientious manufacturer uses harmful and low-quality raw materials in the production of baby food, let alone technical vegetable oils. They use what is permitted by the norms and standards. 

Can palm oil cause constipation or allergies in babies?

Modern formulas such as Holle A2 milk formula use a balance of several vegetable fats that can be easily digested by the baby and do not cause digestive problems. The notion that a baby cannot digest palm oil because of its high melting point is a misconception. The digestion process does not depend on the temperature. Palm oil, like any other product, is digested by the enzyme lipase and is digested even by a newborn baby. In addition, modern baby formula is a complex product with many other components besides palm oil. Among them are prebiotics, improving calcium absorption and preventing constipation. In addition, there are formulas for babies with sensitive tummies based on A2 milk, which provide comfortable digestion. For example, the Holle A2 milk formula includes a set of high-quality vegetable fats (palm oil, rapeseed oil, and sunflower oil), making its composition nutritionally balanced and safe for babies.

Palm oil also can not cause food allergies. The protein components of foods cause it, and oil is a fat component, which is not an allergen. Nor can it act as a flavor enhancer or influence a child’s future eating habits.

Why is palm oil considered harmful?

The myth about the harmfulness of palm oil has been hyped mainly as a result of information wars between various companies. Also, the media actively replicates the information that palm oil is banned in Europe. In fact, the share of products with palm oil is relatively high in Europe. 

Of course, the issue of palm oil in baby formula is still controversial for many people. And at the same time, it is more important for consumers to be guided not by hearsay or advertising but by scientific evidence.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.