Palm oil in baby milk? Let's talk about the effects

Palm oil in baby milk? Let's talk about the effects

In their June 2021 newsletter, Leading charity First Steps Nutrition Trust has published a report on the harmful effects of using palm oil in baby milk. While many brands are now faced with having to change recipes because of the reality that using palm oil as one of their ingredients isn’t the best choice for babies and the environment, Kendamil’s recipe proudly stays the same.

At Kendamil, we truly care about the healthy development of babies. That’s why we do not use palm oil in any of our products - and we never will.

Many brands are now faced with having to change recipes, because of the reality that using palm oil as one of their ingredients isn’t the best choice for babies or the environment. 

🌴 Does palm oil have negative effects in baby milk? 🌴

Palm  oil is an approved ingredient in baby formula, however there is some research out there that suggests it might not be the optimum choice.
Studies have also shown that baby milks containing palm oil prevented absorption of good fats, as well as important minerals like calcium. Studies have also found that the consumption of palm oil can lead to problems later in life like reduced bone mass and reduced bone density. (2)

There’s also the impact on our little one’s digestive system. Some babies may pass harder stools when they drink formula containing palm oil, and can even become constipated. This happens when palmitic acid (a fatty acid that comes from palm oil) binds with the calcium, forming insoluble soaps and undigested particles in the baby's gut, which then get excreted from the baby’s body in harder stools. (3)

Because of these concerns, strict maximum levels of palm oil have been placed on infant formula and follow-on formula. First Steps Nutrition Trust, a leading nutrition charity, sent out a newsletter in June 2021 with a study stating "the removal of palm oil from infant milks and baby foods would be a prudent response." The study also acknowledged Kendamil for being palm oil-free and we’re pleased to see more and more formula companies choosing to go palm oil free.

🌴 Does palm oil have negative effects on the environment? 🌴

There’s also the damage that the production of palm oil does to our environment. You might recall Iceland brought the ethical concerns of palm oil to the British public’s attention a few years back. WWF has also widely criticised the use of palm oil and labeled it as one of the main driving factors behind deforestation, climate change and stated that it affects the habitats of already endangered animals, like orangutans.

Why do baby formulas contain vegetable fats?

The purpose of baby formula is to closely match each component of breast milk - which is the GOLD standard for feeding your little one! Breast milk is made up of fats, protein and carbohydrates. It’s the fat (or lipids) that give our little ones over half the amount of energy needed for healthy development. But, there is more to lipids than just giving our little ones energy. These lipids are essential fatty acids (EFA’s) that aid tissue growth, cardiovascular health, brain development and function. They’re the building blocks of life and essential for neurodevelopment. Babies are born with 100 billion neurons in their brains - twice as many as adults! These neurons are manufactured from lipids (good full cream milk fats!), and in their first three years the brain will grow faster than any other body part. (4)

🤔 So why do some formula companies use palm oil? 🤔

Palm oil is used in some baby formulas as part of their 100% vegetable fat recipe to provide palmitic acid. This is because their recipes use skimmed milk not whole milk, so there are none of the healthy fats you find in whole milk. This is why we use liquid whole milk in our Kendamil recipe! We also include some important vegetable fats in our recipe alongside the fats from our whole milk, to make sure that your baby is getting all the good fats and nutrients that they need! 

🥛 Why Kendamil will never use palm oil in any of its products 🥛

Kendamil is the only baby milk made in Britain today and we source all our cow’s milk from Red Tractor and Organic farms, right here in Britain. Why? Because we believe that we have some of the world’s best dairy farms and we’ve heard the overwhelming feedback from our customers about our whole milk recipe.

We’re about giving your family quality ingredients and leaving out the nasty ones, which is why our Kendamil baby milk has always been palm oil free. We do not, and will never, use palm oil. 

Instead, we use a blend of full-fat milk for your baby’s source of fat, as this means we don’t need to add as many oils to our recipe. Our blend of full-fat milk is combined with healthy essential oils found in a combination of sunflower, coconut and rapeseed to match the essential fatty acids (EFAs) found in breast milk. These EFAs naturally are high in linolenic fatty acids (omega-6) and alpha linolenic fatty acids (omega-3), giving your little ones the vital nutrients they need.

Of course all formulas in the UK follow strict guidelines set out by the EU so are all nutritionally complete and safe for your baby. When you buy from Kendamil, rest assured you’re buying from a brand will always advocate for quality ingredients.


(1) Process contaminants from oil refining in infant milks, First Steps Nutrition Trust

(2) Koo WW, Hockman EM, Dow M. Palm olein in the fat blend of infant formulas: effect on the intestinal absorption of calcium and fat, and bone mineralization. J Am Coll Nutr. 2006 Apr;25(2):117-22. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2006.10719521. PMID: 16582027

(3) Lasekan, John B et al. “Impact of palm olein in infant formulas on stool consistency and frequency: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.” Food & nutrition research vol. 61,1 1330104. 14 Jun. 2017, doi:10.1080/16546628.2017.1330104

(4) Mental Floss, 10 Amazing Facts about the Human Brain, 

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