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Sumatran elephants and instant noodles: what’s the connection?

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Sumatran elephants are pretty adorable. Yet across the Indonesian island of Sumatra, they’re losing their forest homes to the unsustainable and illegal production of palm oil.

Palm oil is used in about half of the products on supermarket shelves, but we’re largely unaware of its presence. That’s because it’s usually just one ingredient among many in processed foods.

Americans consume the greatest amount of palm oil through instant noodles. These inexpensive and convenient meals are flash-fried in palm oil to make them crispy and dry. In fact, many instant noodle products are 20% palm oil by weight.

Unfortunately, many of the top instant noodle brands in the US are made without certified sustainable palm oil. Using unsustainable palm oil puts elephants—and tigers, orangutans, rhinos and other wildlife—in danger.

Even after forests are cleared to make room for palm plantations, elephants remain in these areas because it’s still their home territory, leading to increased incidents of human-wildlife conflict that can result in the retaliatory killing of elephants.

To promote more wildlife-friendly production practices, WWF co-founded the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil. This global organization sets standards for environmentally sound, socially responsible, and economically viable palm oil production. Today, about one-fifth of the world’s palm oil supply is produced according to the Roundtable’s standards. Look for the Roundtable's logo on products containing certified sustainable palm oil.

Find out which food and cosmetic products contain palm oil.

Learn more about the use of palm oil in instant noodles.