Nutella Fights Back After Claims That the Delicious Spread Causes Cancer
Ferrero, the makers of Nutella, have defended their use of palm oil after a report has claimed it can cause cancer.
The chocolate spread relies on palm oil for its smooth texture and considerably long shelf life. But a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) declared palm oil to be more carcinogenic than any other oil, following similar claims by the World Health Organisation.
The detailed EFSA report, published in May 2016, said palm oil is more dangerous than other vegetable oils when refined at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius.
High temperatures are used to remove palm oil’s natural red color and neutralize its smell. This process, however, causes contaminants called glycidyl fatty acid esters (or, GE) to form.
When digested, GE has a tendency to break down and release glycidol, a compound strongly believed to cause tumors. According to a report by the US National Institutes of Health, oral exposure to glycidol has caused tumors at many different tissue sites in lab mice and lab rats.
However, Ferrero says it uses an industrial process that combines a temperature of just below 200C and extremely low pressure to minimize contaminants.
The process takes longer and costs 20 percent more than high-temperature refining, Ferrero told Reuters.
The Italian company said that this had allowed it to bring GE levels so low that scientific instruments find it hard to trace the chemical.
Many other products contain refined palm oil, including confectionery, toothpaste, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, and baked goods to name a few. It is frequently used by manufacturers because it is cheap, but palm oil has been controversial for a long time over fears that production of the oil has caused catastrophic deforestation and destroyed animal habitats.
There are no plans to remove Nutella from Australian shelves, and the World Health Organisation has not suggested people stop eating palm oil.
Will you continue to feed Nutella to your family?