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Is Nutella® Safe to Eat?

Find out the reason for the recent scrutiny of this popular hazelnut and cocoa cream spread.

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In 1946 Pietro Ferrero, of Piedmont in Italy, came up with a creative solution to the problem of the ongoing cocoa shortage. After creating a sweet concoction from hazelnuts, sugar and just a little of the rare cocoa, Ferrero named it ‘Giandujot.’ Later, in 1951, he developed a paste form of the product. Finally, in 1964, his son Michele developed the hazelnut and cocoa cream spread, which we know and love today.

The Safety of Palm Oil

Recent research into the safety of palm oil, commonly used in cooking and processed foods, has raised some concern about the potential dangers of this oil. This study found that when palm oil was heated to high temperatures, specifically temperatures over 200 degrees Celsius (about 392 degrees Fahrenheit), carcinogenic contaminants were formed. The most concerning of these contaminants is glycidl fatty acid ester (GE), which is a known carcinogen. This study has created a significant movement throughout Europe to ban foods made with palm oil, and food companies are racing to produce “palm oil free” options.

The Scrutiny of Nutella

Nutella has fallen under scrutiny as a result of this study as palm oil is a major ingredient in the product. The ingredients in Nutella include sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, milk, lecithin (an emulsifier made from soybeans or sunflower seeds) and vanillin, a synthetic not derived from the vanilla bean, that gives the scent of vanilla.

Palm oil is what gives Nutella its smooth texture and improved shelf life. The company that makes Nutella, Ferrero, claims that Nutella is safe to eat as the palm oil is not heated to temperatures that cause these carcinogenic compounds to form. They maintain that palm oil contains lower levels of carcinogenic contaminants when refined correctly and that the company is not using high temperatures in the process of making Nutella.

So, Is Nutella Safe to Eat?

As with consumption of any fats and oils, moderation is the key. Heavy consumption of any oils and fats can result in a variety of health concerns. Consider that a two tablespoon serving of Nutella contains 11 grams of fat. Of the 200 calories in each serving, 100 calories comes from fat.

Aside from the palm oil debate and fat content, Nutella is also pretty high in sugar (21 grams per serving).

Bottom line? We’re not here to say you should or shouldn’t eat Nutella; that’s really your decision. But we can say for certain that there are quite a few reasons you might want to rethink adding Nutella to your shopping cart.

ABC News. (2017).  Nutella Maker Fights Back Against Cancer-Causing Claims. ABCNews. Retrieved on 1/14/17 from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/nutella-maker-fights-back-cancer-causing-claims/story?id=44756338.

EFSA. (2017). Process contaminants in vegetable oil and foods. European Food Safety Authority. Retrieved on 1/14/17 from https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/160503a.

Nutella. (2017). History. Nutella. Retrieved on 1/14/17 from https://www.nutella.com/en/us/history.

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