I am as guilty as anyone of finding pleasure through chocolate on occasion. In fact, there are certain “feel good” snacks that I associate with my childhood, Kitkat being one of them.
However recent reports of  Nestle’s role in eradicating the Indonesian rainforests, home to the Orangutan, puts perspective on my desire to snack on Kitkat’s “chocky-bickies.”

A Sumatran Orangutan (Src: Sumtran Orangutan Society)

According to this morning’s Sun, Nestle is guilty of purchasing palm oil used in the treat, from a company which allegedly clears Indonesian rainforest lands to develop palm oil plantations instead. Greenpeace says that this has led to the death of more than 1,500 orangutans in a year.

From a health and nutrition point of view, I am not an advocate of packaged foods that use palm oil.  In its natural state, the oil is high in antioxidants and essential fatty acids. However when used commercially, it undergoes a process called fractionation, in which it is separated into a solid and a liquid. The solid form, palm stearin, is used to form solid fats such as margarine, which though not technically trans-fats, are high in saturated fat content. So fractionated palm oil provides a way for food makers to claim that their product is free of dangerous trans-fats, and therefore is heart healthy. This is incredibly misleading however, as processed palm oil is no longer a nutritional oil.

“Every time you take a bite out of a KitKat, you may be taking a bite out of Indonesia’s rainforests, which are critical for the orang-utan’s survival,”

said Daniela Montalto, Greenpeace International campaigner.

It is exactly this sentiment which has caused Greenpeace to  launch a viral video campaign that takes Nestle to task.  The online launch at greenpeace.org/kitkat and YouTube at 11am this morning coincided with protests taking place across Europe.  Around 100 Greenpeace activists, some dressed as orangutans, have been rallied to Nestlé’s headquarters and factories in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

The video is particularly graphic but drives the point home incredibly well. Click here to watch the video.