Happy Nutella Day. Now What Is It?
We should be considering Nutella a green food; Pietro Ferrero invented it in the 1940s when chocolate was in short supply due to rationing, while hazelnuts were common in the Piedmont region of Italy, so it makes use of a local resource. It was much cheaper than chocolate, and came to America in 1983.
But would Pietro Ferrero recognize the stuff?
The American website describes the stuff as "tasty unique spread made from the combination of roasted hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa. Nutella® has no artificial colors or preservatives."
The label, required by law to list ingredients in order of what there is the most of first, puts it differently:
Ingredients: sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk powder, whey powder, soy lecithin, vanillin.
And how do they deal with the issue of Palm oil? Their American website addresses the issue:
Is the modified palm oil in Nutella® hydrogenated?
No. The modified palm oil is a mix of the liquid and solid oil naturally extracted from the fruit of the palm. The mix is adjusted to assure the best consistency for easy spreading. The process also reduces the level of saturated fat. Per serving Nutella® has 0 gram transfat
That is a completely deceptive answer; palm oil sales are going through the roof because none of it is hydrogenated. They are answering a question that nobody would ask, playing to the panic over transfat with a disingenuous answer. See Everything connects: How getting rid of trans-fats kills orangutans
Then they answer the question:
Does Ferrero support responsible palm oil use?
Yes. As a member of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), Ferrero only uses palm oil which is extracted from controlled plantations in Malaysia.
Many organizations no longer recognize the RSPO as being legitimate. In November, 80 organizations from 31 countries sent an open letter that included the following:
Destructive oil palm plantations have been certified in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and the same greenwashing exercise has started in Colombia, Thailand and Ghana.
We are deeply concerned that RSPO certification is being used to legitimise an expansion in the demand for palm oil and thus in oil palm plantation, and it serves to greenwash the disastrous social and environmental impacts of the palm oil industry. The RSPO standards do not exclude clear cutting of many natural forests, the destruction of other important ecosystems, nor plantings on peat. The RSPO certifies plantations which impact on the livelihoods of local communities and their environments. The problems are exacerbated by the in-built conflict of interest in the system under which a company wanting to be certified commissions another company to carry our the assessment.
They call the RSPO greenwash. "The real goal of the RSPO certification is not to protect people or the environment, but "to legitimise an expansion in the demand for palm oil", and to serve "to 'greenwash' the disastrous social and environmental impacts of the palm oil industry".
If there is one thing that TreeHugger has consistently said, it is that you should avoid foods made with palm oil. And that includes Nutella.
More on Palm Oil:
Rainforest Action Network on Palm Oil
Indonesia to Allow More Palm Oil From Peat Lands: Watch Greenhouse Gas Emissions Go Through the Roof
Pay No Attention to the Whining Indonesian Palm Oil Industry: The Deforestation, Climate Change & Biodiversity Concerns Are Genuine
Palm Oil: A Rainforest in your Shopping
Palm Oil in the Spotlight: Plantations Threaten Rare Cats, Peatland Emissions Increasing + A Small Victory