It was reported that a certain cancerous ingredient is present in the “yummilicious” (yummy and delicious) hazelnut spread called Nutella. This is the major reason why Nutella was banned in some European grocery stores. Everything was pulled out from the shelves a few months ago because of this big exposé.
Glycidyl fatty acid ester (GE) is the name of that particular ingredient and when it is heated anywhere between 200 to 400 degrees Farenheit in palm oil mixture, the fatty acid ester releases a carcinogenic chemical. The European Standards Agency released a warning regarding this matter last May of 2016. And if you check the ingredients of Nutella, you will see that palm oil is one of the major components of this creamy chocolate nut spread because it keeps the spread creamy and it lasts longer too.
The makers of Nutella, Ferrero, are very adamant about this. They are saying that Nutella needs palm oil and that this oil makes the spread superior in quality. If any other oil is being used aside from palm oil, the consistency wouldn’t be that good and it will affect the quality of the product. This is what their Purchasing Manager, Vincenzo Tapella, announced to the media. Ferrero, the company, is strongly fighting these “misleading” campaigns against Nutella, the hazelnut spread.
It has been said that Rapeseed oil or Sunflower oil can be used as a substitute. So, instead of using Palm oil (which has the potential of going “cancer crazy” at over 200 degrees Farenheit), they were advised to use Rapeseed or Sunflower oil. They did say they can use it as an option but these oils are very expensive. Sunflower oil is a bit high end and Rapeseed oil is not easy to come by. The fact remains that if they use these oils, the price of a Nutella jar will go up to $22. The company has already given their consumers a computation about this issue.
Ferrero, the company behind Nutella, is using 185,000 tons of palm oil every single year. This is mostly attributed to the production of the chocolate hazelnut spread. And yes, it is the company’s “golden baby”. They are earning so much and the sales of Nutella is a whopping 20% of the company’s income.
As for European Food Safety Authority or EFSA, they didn’t release an advisory regarding the matter. They said that it is still inconclusive and there is so much to research about the matter. Tests need to be done and it has to be scientifically proven. This is their standing and they say that Nutella is not a cancer-inducing food for now because there is no evidence to corroborate the statement of the European Standards Agency.
The World Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned people about the potential effects of palm oil but they didn’t issue an official statement of banning it from use, as well. There are a lot of things to be studied on about this – that’s the real fact here.
Ferrero did confirm that they were heating it up because it needs to be done to make Nutella smooth, creamy and spreadable. They also said that the palm oil is heated up to an extent but it does not go beyond the 200-degree Farenheit level. The spokesperson confirmed that it doesn’t reach 200 degrees at all and that they control the procedure with the highest quality. As for the ingredients where they take the palm oil, they use the oil coming from fresh fruits.
Health and Food Safety at the European Commission spokesperson Enrico Brivio said that by the end of 2017, they will be issuing an official statement regarding palm oil and its use. Dr. Helle Knutsen of EFSA did say that glycidol is genotoxic and can be a cause for cancer but there is no official statement yet. There are also no standards on the safety levels of GE for now so it is a gray issue. In Italy, though, Nutella has been banned just as a safety precaution. But that’s them!