Nutella fights back over cancer claims

  • By Safia Aktar


Nutella’s manufacturer fights back over claims the spread can cause cancer


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Ferrero, the company behind Nutella, have defended their use of palm oil in the infamopus chocolate and hazelnut spread following a report which claimed it can cause cancer.

Nutella was pulled from shelves following the report which stated that palm oil was more likely to contain carcinogenic agents compared to other vegetable oils.

Ferrero say switching ingredients would result in an inferior spread which wouldn’t be as smooth.

The report commissioned for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was published in May 2016, however it has taken Ferrero this long to investigate and respond.

The report concludes that palm oil contains particularly high levels of carcinogenic contaminants when heated to temperatures around 200 degrees Celsius.

The report, does not however suggest that people should stop eating the oil, only insisting that more research is required.


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The largest supermarket chain in Italy did not wish to take any risks however, pulling Nutella from all of Italy’s Co-op stores along with many other palm oil based products.

Palm oil is commonly found in hundreds of household products throughout the world from peanut butter and noodles, to soaps and detergents.

Following the Co-op’s removal of Nutella which hit Ferrero’s sales hard, the company saw it as necessary to take out a television advert specifically insisting that the product was safe.

Now in 2017, Ferrero have issued a second statement in defence of their unchanged use of palm oil.

“Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product, it would be a step backward.” 

There is also the matter of money.

It has been estimated that using an alternative vegetable oil would cost Ferrero around £18 million GBP per year extra.


Palm oil has been controversial globally for some time over fears that production of the oil has caused catastrophic deforestation and destroyed animal habitats.

The UK has currently not expressed any plans to stop selling Nutella, a stance the vast majority of countries have taken.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) has not suggested people refrain from eating the oil.


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S.Aktar@theinternational.org.uk

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