Taking Nutella to Court Over Nutritional Claims

“Every jar has wholesome quality ingredients like hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of delicious cocoa. And Nutella has no artificial ingredients or preservatives.

This is the refrain of the mother in a frequently aired Nutella commercial currently appearing across Canada and the United States. It is not a surprise that kids love having Nutella for breakfast — it tastes just like chocolate icing. But is it truly part of a healthy breakfast like the advertisements claim?

I’m a mom and I didn’t believe the hype. Although my kids love Nutella and get to eat it for breakfast when we are on vacation, I wasn’t ready to start making part of a “nutritious breakfast” in our home and I didn’t think Nutella’s claims could be accurate. So when I was out grocery shopping, I read the label, and sent out a tweet with my findings: “Nutella ads brag about nutritious ingredients like nuts, skim milk, touch of cocoa. But – 1st ingredients listed are sugar + palm oil” [January 9 - @phdinparenting via twitter].

It seems I’m not the only one who was upset about these claims. Athena Hohenberg, a San Diego mother of a four year-old, took her complaints further than twitter. She filed a class action lawsuit against Ferrero International, the makers of Nutella, in U.S. District Court in California this week.

According to the Globe and Mail, Hohenberg was “shocked to learn from friends that Nutella was in fact not a ‘healthy’, ‘nutritious’ food, but was instead the next best thing to a candy bar.” According to her lawsuit, Nutella “contains dangerous levels of saturated fat” and “over 55% processed sugar.” Hohenberg is demanding, among other things, that Ferrero be forbidden from advertising Nutella as healthy or nutritious and that it launch a corrective advertising campaign.

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Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.

Photo credit: janineomg on flickr

206 comments

Carole R.
Carole R.5 years ago

I'm not surprised. It is hard to imagine this could be healthy.

Laura Pearson
Laura P.5 years ago

Boycott Nutella! They use palm oil, (why!?!?!) and it's destroying orangutan's habitats! It's awful!!! Also whoever would believe that chocolate based and sugar pumped spread would ever be part of a nutritious breakfast or any meal. Get some FRUIT! :D:D:D

Leigh Everett
Leigh Everett5 years ago

Courtney Bliss and Elizabeth M

Bread isn't healthy for you either by the way. Bread manufacturers are allowed to say 'whole wheat' if there is bran present in their bread but they don't have to put much in for them to claim this . It's also a rip off advertising sceme so be careful with that. Bread is basically carbs (refined sugar) so try going for a more healthy approach like sprouted grain breads. They are a bit closer to being healthy.

Jute W.
Jute W.5 years ago

Advertising can be so deceptive. Thanks for the reminder. I think I will pass on this item.

Gabriela B.
Gabriela B.5 years ago

I'm not eating it, since I don't like chocolate, and nutella is almost pure chocolate. It's too sweet to be healthy by the way.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman5 years ago

I love it for baking
:-)

 .
.5 years ago

Actually I considered this healthy breakfast stuff, what was in it I wondered? Low and behold the "natural"? health store had a display, My child there, we read the label.....Sugar,Palm oil, First two ingredients! First two? ingredients?!?Needless to say, we did NOT try it.

I am trying to make our palm oil intake to be 0% actually said F!!k it and started eating lamo donuts sometimes instead of Organic oreos which use the Palm oil.

Is there a certification standard for sourcing the palm oil? Anyone know please link to me. Thx.

 .
.5 years ago

not saying anything bad about my mom, heck even santa Claus gave her advice, theres no one better than him!

 .
.5 years ago

well the next ad I saw after The Nutella plaid shirt happy mom lady was Pop Tarts, the coolset breakfast ever, happy kids off to school in a hurry ad.
Whats the difference? I barley survived off canned frosting,5 lb's of ground beef and a jug of coke at age 10 for snacks of course! now they have better commercials that make it look cool and healthy. Jeez, my mom didn't wanna do it(make me a good meal/snack) now these commercials are like bad moms on crack promoting more crack-heads

Lika S.
Lika S.5 years ago

If it looks like chocolate, tastes like chocolate... it just has a hint of nuts, right? Stick to natural peanut butter. It's better for you, and real.