Nutella is paying just over $3 million to settle a class action lawsuit. Apparently, it had been misleading consumers to think it was a healthy food. A San Diego mom thought Nutella would be a good breakfast staple for her 4-year-old daughter after watching a commercial for the yummy spread.
When she realized she had been misled, it wasn’t too difficult to find a law firm to file a class action lawsuit against Ferrero USA, the manufacturer. And so, if you bought a Nutella in the last few years, you are eligible for a $4 piece of the action. The lawyers will be getting a clean half a million dollars for a case that didn’t even make it to trial.
Aside from the fine, Nutella’s website no longer makes any health claim; it rather focuses on the tag line – “Breakfast never tasted this good.”
So how “healthy” is Nutella?
What you need to know:
Nutella may be tasty, but it rates poorly on Fooducate.
A 2 tablespoon serving, which is what you’d spread on a toast, is 190 calories. It contains 11 grams of fat, 3.5 of which are saturated (18% of your daily recommended value). The 21 grams of sugar in a serving are equivalent to 5 teaspoonfuls!
Here is the ingredient list:
sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (from milk), soy lecithin: an emulsifier, vanillin: an artificial flavor.
As expected, the first ingredient is sugar.
Regarding the modified palm oil, it’s not exactly clear what has been done to the oil. In the past, Nutella used hazelnut oil, but then switched to cheaper oils which were hydrogenated. But that was full of tran-fats, so the next option in line was palm oil, naturally close to solid at room temperature. Palm oil does not require hydrogenation like some other liquidy oils. but it is high in saturated fat.
Soy lecithin is used to firm up the spread and keep the ingredients from separating. Vanillin, is an artificial flavoring that is much cheaper than using real vanilla extract.
Not a health food.
What to do at the supermarket:
We love Nutella as a treat. A jar should last you a couple of months when used only occasionally, for example a packed lunch for the last day of the school week, or spread thinly on a Sunday morning crepe.
If you’re looking for a nut spread that will work hard for you on a daily basis, peanut butter is a more nutritious and affordable choice. Peanut butter (made with peanuts only) has just 3 grams of sugar vs. Nutella’s 21.