easter chocolate eggs cracked in silver foil

Easter eggs have lined supermarket shelves for weeks now and we’re thinking about the long weekend break behind us – a great time for family, friends, a big lamb roast and our favourite Easter chocolate treat.

I’ve never thought too much about the Easter eggs I buy for others – I tend to decide on a specific brand that I know they like. But then I read an article online that highlighted the issues behind the production of Easter eggs and chocolate as a whole – the use of controversial palm oil.

The article was based on research from Ethical Consumer Magazine and the Rainforest Foundation (RFUK). They investigated and gave 70 brands an ethical score and traffic light rating, based on their use of palm oil. You can find the rankings here. Worryingly, it’s not just the economy brands scoring badly, but luxury ones too.

This research was done to help launch a campaign to raise people’s awareness of the increasing threat that unsustainable palm oil is having to the world’s rainforests and wildlife, as well as people whose livelihoods depend on the forests. Deforestation, helping to push the species to the brink of extinction, while the indigenous people that once lived in these rainforests are being forced to move. Greenpeace also says that palm oil production and the associated deforestation accounts for 4% of the world’s greenhouse emissions.

Even if you’re aware of the problems that palm oil production causes, you may not be aware of when you are eating it. It’s often found in food products such as chocolate, peanut butter and biscuits, but EU law will not require it to be listed on the ingredients list until December 2014.

The hope is that this campaign will change consumers’ buying habits and spread the word to others, eventually forcing companies that aren’t taking their environmental responsibilities seriously to use more sustainably sourced palm oil. As consumers we have the power to hold companies to account over their unsustainable use of palm oil production, and to reward companies that take responsibility for their impact on the world.

At Jamie Oliver we only source palm oil-based products that meet our high standards in sustainability, and this year my Easter eggs came from those companies that have been identified as taking an ethically responsible stance on this huge issue.