Makers of the popular Nutella spread have rubbished claims in a new report that one of its ingredients is cancerous. The chocolate spread uses palm oil to give it its renowned smooth texture and long shelf life.
Consumers use Nutella in myriad ways, including spreading on toast or putting on pancakes. But, a new report issued by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), says that Palm Oil is more carcinogenic that other oils. The latest statement follows similar information from the World Health Organisation.
With Nutella hit by falling profits, its maker Ferrero has now launched a new advertising campaign, saying that it uses palm oil in a way which carries no risks. Palm oil is currently the cheapest oil for food manufacturers to us. So, if Nutella manufacturer Ferrero did switch ingredients, it would either face a huge loss in profits, or have to pass price increases on to consumers.
According to the brand’s purchasing manager Vincenzo Tapella, mixing up Nutella without the use of palm oil would produce a spread which is not as good as the current recipe. His comments have been criticised following the damning report which said that palm oil is more dangerous than other oils when it is refined at temperatures higher than 200C.
Manufacturers use very high temperatures to take out the natural red colour of palm oil and to reduce its strong smell. However, heating it up in such a way causes glycidyl fatty acid esters (or GE) to form. This can release glycidol when consumed, which has been strongly linked to the formation of tumors.
Tests in lab mice and rats have found that the oral exposure of glycidol has caused tumors in different sites around the body. But, Mr Ferrero said that his firm uses a special process to bring the temperature to just below 200C, and to use low pressure to minimise the formation of any contaminants. He said that Ferrero did this, even though it is a longer process and more difficult.