News

Nutella maker hits back over cancer concerns

Independent News and Media

Ferrero, the maker of Nutella, has hit back at claims that palm oil used in their hazelnut and chocolate spreads could cause cancer.

In May, the European Food Standards Authority warned that the contaminants found in the oil's edible form are carcinogenic.

It warned that even moderate consumption of the substances represented a risk to children and said that, due to a lack of definitive data, no level could be considered safe.

Palm oil is found in hundreds of household name food brands including Cadbury's chocolate, Clover and even Ben & Jerry's, but Nutella has so far faced the brunt of a consumer backlash.

Sales fell by three per cent as consumers boycotted the product, fearing it could be harmful. Coop, the country's biggest supermarket chain removed 200 products containing palm oil, though not Nutella, from its shelves in May as a precaution.

In response, Ferrero has launched an advertising campaign in an attempt to reassure customers that its products are totally safe.

Ferrero insists that the decision to keep palm oil in Nutella, despite safety fears, is about quality, not cost.

The substance is used to give the spread its smooth texture which it says can't be achieved by using other oils. "Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product, it would be a step backward," Ferrero's purchasing manager Vincenzo Tapella told Reuters.

Substitute oils, derived for example from sunflowers or rapeseed, could be used but would increase the cost of making the product by as much as $22m (£18m), a calculation by Reuters found.

Ferrero has not confirmed the figures. The company was not immediately available for comment.

The cancer fears centre on a compounds known as glycidyl fatty acid esters (GE), which are produced in palm oil when it is heated above 200 degrees celsius, as it is in the processing of for many foods.

Dr Helle Knutsen, chair of Contam, the EFSA panel that investigated palm oil, said in May: "There is sufficient evidence that glycidol is genotoxic and carcinogenic, therefore the Contam panel did not set a safe level for GE."

The contaminants can be found in some other vegetable oils, margarines and processed foods but the EFSA found that they are produced in higher, potentially dangerous, amounts in palm oil.

The World Health Organisation and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation have also expressed concerns about GE but have stopped short of issuing warnings about its consumption.

A spokesperson for Ferrero said: "The health and safety of consumers is an absolute and first priority for Ferrero.

"The presence of contaminants in food products, analyzed by the EFSA, depends on the oils and fats used as well as the processes they are subjected to.

"It is for this reason that for some time now Ferrero has been carefully selecting raw materials and industrial processes that limit their presence to minimum levels, fully in line with the parameters defined by the EFSA."

Environmental concerns

It is not the first time that palm oil has caused controversy.

In November Amnesty International raised concerns that global firms including Colgate-Palmolive, Kellogg's, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever have been using palm oil produced by children as young as eight, working in hazardous conditions on Indonesian plantations.

Children were carrying sacks of palm fruit weighing up to 25kg, for Singapore-based company Wilmar, Amnesty found.

Palm oil has long been linked to environmental degradation, including mass deforestation causing the loss of critical habitats for endangered species such as orangutans.

Ferrero says all of the oil it uses comes from sustainable sources as certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a body set up by major producers and purchasers to set standards and self-regulate the industry.

The RSPO has been criticised by many non-governmental organisations who say that its standards are too low and enforcement too weak.

Greenpeace said in its 2013 report "Certifying Destruction" that the RSPO's standards left it free to fell pristine forests to make way for plantations. 

Topics:  cancer editors picks food nutella


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Iconic trophy coming to Lismore

2016 Emirates Melbourne Cup.

Lismore will host the 18-carat gold Emirates Melbourne Cup in 2017

Applications open for Country Arts Support Program

CASP 2016 The Microscope Art Project Mullumbimby

Northern Rivers projects favoured for funding

Northern Rivers drug driving rate 5 times state average

CAUGHT OUT: At least eight people have appeared at Ipswich Court this week to plead guilty to drink-driving or drug-driving-related offences.

Number of people facing drug driving charges has more than tripled

Local Partners

Big Rob needs Legal Aid to help defend charges

Mr Rob appeared before Lismore Local Court this morning over seven charges one which includes breaching an interim AVO in relation to the Lismore mayor.

Mandy and Ellen will be just women like us in Nimbin

DUO: Mandy Nolan and Ellen Briggs bring their hit show Women Like Us to Nimbin.

Hit comedy show heading towards Nimbin

Felix Riebl wants to be in your arms

TOURING NOW: Australian musician Felix Riebl is coming to the Northern Rivers in June.

Cat Empire frontman brings out his romantic side in solo show

First female superhero film in 12 years

AMAZON: Actress Gal Gadot in a scene from the film Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman opens next Thursday

Wonder Woman is a kick-arse superhero romp

WITH so much at stake, thank Zeus that Wonder Woman didn’t fall into the same trap as its DC Extended Universe predecessors.

Everything coming to Netflix, Stan, Foxtel and Amazon Prime Video this June

Orange Is The New Black returns for another season.

Find out what's being added to our streaming services in June.

Sam Armytage and Tom Cruise? Saaaaay what?

Apparently, the answer is no.

Musical tribute to flood volunteers released

Songwriter honours flood volunteers who helped their neighbours.

Lismore songwriter Simon Thomas was moved by strangers' kindness

Karl Stefanovic's rant about Schapelle Corby 'a bit rich'

Karl Stefanovic is sick of hearing about Schapelle Corby.

Maybe he just wanted to make himself the story.

Could Schapelle be heading for Gladstone?

Australian Schapelle Corby is escorted by Bali Police at the parole office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, 27 May 2017.

Schapelle's mother teases her free daughter could be Gladstone bound

Six things you never knew about Men in Black

Mushu the pug

It's been 20 years since Men in Black first hit cinemas

This is real estate's billion-dollar man

Bob Wolff at AREC with John McGrath of McGrath Real Estate.

They don’t call him the “Billion dollar man” for nothing

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!