France’s ecology minister, Ségolène Royal, really doesn’t think consumers should eat products containing palm oil, including the beloved hazelnut spread Nutella.
“We have to replant a lot of trees because there is massive deforestation that also leads to global warming," Royal said Monday on an interview broadcast by the French television network Canal+. "We should stop eating Nutella, for example, because it’s made with palm oil.”
Palm oil is one of the biggest commodities linked to tropical deforestation, as forests are cut down to make way for oil palm plantations. In countries like Indonesia, most palm oil is destined for export to be used in processed foods--like Nutella.One could make the argument that it’s somewhat unfair to single out Nutella, since palm oil is used in hundreds of consumer products, from toothpaste to peanut butter to cookies. The Ferrero Group, the confection company that makes Nutella, issued a statement Tuesday that it has previously committed to sourcing its palm oil responsibly, The Guardian reports.
It’s also worth noting that the Ferrero Group is both a member of the Consumer Goods Forum and has signed the New York Declaration on Forests, both of which commit the company to ensuring there is no deforestation in their product chain within the next five years. The Forest 500 project, which rates some of the most influential companies in the forest commodities sector, gives Ferrero an overall score of four out of five.
Although palm oil is in many products and Ferrero may not be the worst manufacturer using it, hopefully Royal's comments will cause more people to think about where their food is coming from and the possible impacts it may have. She deserves credit for knowing how to bring attention to the issue, by targeting a subject that’s close to many people’s hearts and tastebuds.