Can Nutella give you cancer?

By La Volpe | Jan 12, 2017 12:39 PM EST
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Bad news for passionate Nutella aficionados - the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has deemed one of Nutella's main ingredients palm oil a possible carcinogen.

The Italian confectionery firm Ferrero has taken a public stand protecting an ingredient that some other food companies in the country are refusing. According to The Telegraph, Ferrero has launched an advertising campaign to guarantee the public about the safety of Nutella, its leading product which makes up about a fifth of its sales.

In a report by Daily Mail, the detailed EFSA report, published in May 2016, said palm oil is more risky than other vegetable oils when refined at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius. This process is used to remove palm oil's natural red color and to neutralize its smell.

This process however, causes contaminants called glycidyl fatty acid esters (GE) to form. When digested, GE has a tendency to breakdown and release glycidol, a compound strongly believed to cause tumors.

Ferrero, however, says it uses an industrial process that combines temperature of just below 200 degrees Celsius and extremely low pressure to lessen impurities. The process takes longer and costs 20 percent more than high-temperature refining.

Ferrero's purchasing manager Vincenzo Tapella is featured in a TV commercial aired in Italy over the past 3 months that has drawn criticism from politicians as they call for palm oil to be banned.

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

The hazelnut and chocolate spread, one of Italy's best-known food brands and a widely held breakfast treat for children, depends mainly on palm oil for its smooth texture and shelf life. Other alternatives, such as sunflower oil, would change its character, according to Ferrero. Meanwhile, rivals are deviously advertising themselves as 'palm oil-free', encouraging the depression in Nutella's sales.

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