Nutella Cancer Scare: Chocolate Spread Can Be Removed from Italian Supermarkets

Nutella Cancer Scare: Chocolate Spread Can Be Removed from Italian Supermarkets Nutella (Ciro/FLICKR) with CC BY 2.0

Right after news broke out that palm oil could potentially cause cancer, supermarkets in Italy have begun pulling out stocks made with this controversial oil. Processed palm oil is one of the essential ingredients in making the popular Nutella chocolate spread. But is there really a perceived threat from consuming products made with this raw material?

Coop, one of Italy’s biggest supermarket chains, has already begun pulling out products made with refined palm oil in May. Nutella, however, was spared and remained sold in branches. Not until the European Food Safety Authority issued a circular that the process of refining palm oil gives birth to a contaminant that causes cancer, the Independent reported.

Refined Palm Oil Everywhere

As of today, common sweet products, including chocolate bars, sandwich spread, and even formula milk for infants, are made with refined palm oil. The EFSA in particular has raised concern over the use of processed palm oil in babies’ formula milk. But the agency specifically focused on Nutella products, among other products. This, after its maker Ferrero produced a TV advertisement reassuring the public on its safety.

The sales of Nutella have since dipped as soon as the report was published last week. According to the study, cancer-causing chemicals are present in most vegetable oils, but refined palm oil recorded the highest level. Its raw form, palm oil, does not have the carcinogenic chemicals in it.

Nutella and Cancer

It was noted that the heating of palm oil up to 200 degrees Celsius was blamed for the cancer-causing agents. Raw palm oil undergoes a heating process to get rid of the foul smell and its color. The study provides insights on how the processing affects the characteristic of the oil and its health implications.

But Ferrero’s purchasing manager Vincenzo Tapella stood by the company’s decision to defend the use of refined palm oil. Ferrero maintained that there’s no substantial proof that processed palm oil could cause cancer. Tapella appeared on TV ads downplaying the speculations about Nutella and cancer. “Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product, it would be a step backward,” Tapella was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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