Nutella Fined 3 Million Dollars for Misleading About Health

Nutella jar

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.

OOPS.

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.

 

Get Fooducated

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Madelaine-Dial/100003389922422 Madelaine Dial

    its like with EVERYTHING else, MODERATION,MODERATION,MODERATION

    • Vaneenparker

       Moderation kills…to quote Dr. Joel Fuhrman

    • Vaneenparker

       Moderation kills…to quote Dr. Joel Fuhrman

    • Vaneenparker

       Moderation kills…to quote Dr. Joel Fuhrman

    • Vaneenparker

       Moderation kills…to quote Dr. Joel Fuhrman

    • Februarystars

      Please define moderation.

  • Lauren Smith
  • Lauren

    What a precedent, how many other companies are misleading us? I think people do think nutella is “nutty” and therefore healthy. Justin’s chocolate, hazelnut spread is a good stand it. I agree with Lauren (below) you can make your own. There was a recipe on My Judy the Foodie for this. 

  • LuLuBelle

    Huh, so if you let advertising do your thinking for you then you get a $3 million settlement. When did it become okay to ignore common sense?

    • Terrymadden139

      Well by suing them it will keep them from trying to get away with what is wrong. I think more company’s need sued to get the point across. We should not have to worry about what is bad for us in our food.

      • Guest

        $3 million is nothing to companies like that… Even if they got sued 5 times they would still be doing the same thing and it’s just getting their name out there, even if it is for something negative. You can’t really “trust” anything and you are the dumb one for not questioning or looking into things like advertisements (or any other information you hear/read) and just blindly believing whatever you hear. That is why things are the way they are in America, you are the only one responsible for yourself and your family and you can’t blame anyone for your poor and lazy choices. It’s sad that companies do this and are allowed to make such horrible “food” but it’s partly because people haven’t demanded healthier food, which is changing; everyone just wants cheap and fast and that’s what kind of “food” you get.

      • Colten Romans

        it’s ignorant to think that someone has “been mislead” by a commercial. For one it’s not the producers job to tell you that you should consume the product because it’s healthy? they simply sate the facts on the back or side…and if you are a responsible adult and have any sense of the word accountability’s meaning you would understand that but obviously that is out of the question for this woman.

  • Anesa714

    I’m surprised that a mom would think a chocolate spread is a healthy breakfast. In Europe nutella is pretty much a staple food item in the pantry but it’s never been really used as a healthy breakfast item. Just like the article says we used it mainly as a “dessert” or “snack” with toast, crepes, pretzels etc you get the idea. Not sure why the company advertised it as healthy but here common sense should prevail.

    • Mmam5

      If the mom was following the directions and measuring out the “portions” it shouldn’t be a big deal at all.  

      I bet a ton of people take that $4 and buy another large jar of Nutella! LOL cuze you know if they are too lazy to make their own, they’ll buy it again.

      • Guest 2

        I don’t think just because someone doesn’t want to make their own chocolate & hazelnut spread it means they are lazy.  Nutella is a fairly clean product – nothing wrong with buying it.  Save homemade for bread, crackers, and other highly processed chemically laden foods.  

  • http://www.beansnotbambi.wordpress.com/ BeansNotBambi

    While the lawsuit is questionable, the outcome benefits us all – holding companies responsible for the products they produce.  If this precedent continues to carry over to breakfast cereals, we’ll be off to a good start.  If it carries over to all packaged foods, meat, eggs, and dairy – now that’s revolutionary.  It’s about time.

  • http://www.beansnotbambi.wordpress.com/ BeansNotBambi

    While the lawsuit is questionable, the outcome benefits us all – holding companies responsible for the products they produce.  If this precedent continues to carry over to breakfast cereals, we’ll be off to a good start.  If it carries over to all packaged foods, meat, eggs, and dairy – now that’s revolutionary.  It’s about time.

  • LizLemon42

    Its sad when people fail to take personal responsibility for the food they eat and feed their family and then blame big companies.  Hey mom, spend less time with your face pointed at a television and more time with it pointed at the ingredients in the food you serve. It’s not like the government doesn’t already mandate companies to list ingredients on the side of the jar.

    • Terrymadden139

      I don’t have any kids first of all. I have to say when is it a crime to make company’s take responcablity to give the American people a healthy food to eat. We as a consumer shouldn’t have to take time to read every label out there. It should be a healthy and quality food. All these terrible additives and unhealthy foods are killing people. Also they do everything to hide what is in something. Until someone outs them over it. We should have a system that one will work and two that we can trust. In stead of having health food stores out there where you have to go to a mall or something like that. It should be the other way around. It should be a bad for you store and the health store should be in the groserys store. It’s not at all about what a mother or father does with their time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507482534 Kate E Fiedler

    This is insane!  Sueing the company for claiming it is healthy?  Should we sue the margarine companies for doing the same thing.  I am so sick of the litigation culture-take responsibility for your own choices!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507482534 Kate E Fiedler

    This is insane!  Sueing the company for claiming it is healthy?  Should we sue the margarine companies for doing the same thing.  I am so sick of the litigation culture-take responsibility for your own choices!

    • Terrymadden

      Well reading a magizne or meds isn’t the same as the food we eat. Meds or your choice to buy or not. One might work for one but not for the other. But most of all food we need to live!

      • Mmam5

        So you are saying we “need” processed packaged foods to Live by?  Does this mother serve her child packaged cereal? Processed bread? Non-organic/non-homemade Peanut butter? Those things almost all have the same crap in them as Nutella.  Nutella is a healthier choice than others, so technically the company is not in the wrong.

        • Max_Freedom

          Compare the Nutrition info on liquid chocolate Nutella to Jif peanut butter.
          Nutella has way more sugar, no vitamins, less protein, and more saturated fat.

          In no way is Nutella healthier than regular peanut butter.

  • http://twitter.com/OnNutrition Carol Plotkin

    Ooops, the commercial forgot to mention the very first ingredient on the list…sugar!

  • Gmt22

    whole foods has a chocolate peanut butter that is just peanuts & semisweet chocolate bits that you grind yourself! delicious!!

  • SteveT

    The article’s title is “misleading” – Ferrero voluntarily settled a class action lawsuit for $3 million.  Most likely Ferrero just settled because of negative publicity and because it would cost more to defend then to simply settle.  It was not “fined” and did not admit it did anything wrong.  A few consumers will get $4 per container they purchased and their class counsel will get approx. $900,000.  Fair? 

  • Goathiker

    Justin’s brand has a chocolate hazelnut spread that has no sugar.  Try that.

    • Max_Freedom

      Justin’s products are great. The spread is amazing. The peanut butter cups are very good, too.
      I don’t know if you are referring to a special sugar free version of the spread,
      but the Chocolate hazelnut butter has 7g of sugar per serving.

  • Litha13

    How dumb do you have to be to feed your kid chocolate every morning? Would you give her a Hershey bar for breakfast? Of course not.

    • Guest

      Probably if the tv said it was healthy, some hersheys bars have almonds and those are healthy, right?… Lol

    • Anonymous

       Ask the people who buy their kids Cocoa Puffs.  Or Krave.  Or Cocoa Krispies.  Or Count Chocula.  Or Chocolate Cheerios.  Or Chocolate Chex.  Or Chocolate Frosted Mini-Wheats.  Or Chocolatey Delight Special K — oh, right, that’s not a kids’ cereal, is it?  That’s an ADULT cereal.  For GROWN-UPS.  Specifically targeted towards and marketed to grown-ups WHO WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT.

  • Gotha12588

    This is absolutely ridiculous! Can the mother of this little girl not read? If so, she would have read the nutrition labels before giving the food to her child. Parents are lazy these days. They want the teachers or the television, or mall, or video game to take care of their children. I am a mother of two children and guess what, I read the labels before feeding something that I am unfamiliar with to my children. It only takes a few seconds. Parents/people need to grow up and take responsibility for their own actions. I feel sorry for this woman’s child!!

    • Maxkiwi

       At least the thought of health even crossed her mind… that’s more than many American parents can say.  :(

    • Terrymadden139

      I don’t get you people defending these company’s. Why should you have to read a label if they are claiming its good for you. The consumer didn’t claim it’s healthy the company did. It has nothing to do with growing up. It’s about making company’s take responcablity to its product. People are dieing because of all the crap thats in some of are food. I bet if you read something that said its fine for you to eat and later found out it wasn’t what you thought it was you would be angery. We shouldn’t have to have a degree in sience to know what something means or is. The companies do everything they can to hide what’s bad for the consumers. And no I don’t have kids and yes I try to find out what everything means on the label. It takes a lot of time to look it up. So if I had a child I would not want to spend my time checking labels over spending time with my child.

      • Anonymous

        It’s not that we are defending the company, it’s just that, people who are saying “read the label,”  are choosing to talk about the more important issue. Yes, false advertising is bad (sickening even), but companies that supply high volumes of high demand products, will always find a way to do this. Deterring one company from it, won’t deter the hundreds/thousands of other companies from doing it, since money talks. And since money talks, the only true way for companies to wake up and provide “truly” healthier choices, is for the majority of consumers to wake up FIRST, READ product labels, UNDERSTAND the ingredients, and STOP BUYING a product altogether if it is unhealthy. When companies realize demand for their products drops because of it’s unhealthy aspects, they will provide better choices. 
        In today’s world, there is NO substitute for being properly educated. If you have the resources to end your ignorance (which I’m sure 90% of all Americans do), and choose not to, your an idiot. If you choose to believe everything a company says, and allow them to lead you around by the nose, then your an even bigger idiot; and doesn’t deserve the right to complain about products being unhealthy, because you didn’t care enough to understand the ingredients, before feeding it to yourself or family.
        A company doesn’t exist to babysit the consumer, or parent their children. Their only concerns, is to provide the product they wish to provide, and label the ingredients accurately; whether you choose to buy it/eat it or not, is your problem. It’s better for a mother, to spend 30 min. a day researching ingredients and their various effects when consumed, than to have her ignorantly feed her child wrong, causing the child to develop a health problem later. You know what we call parents, that go through such lengths to make sure their kids eat right? We call them actual GOOD PARENTS. 

      • http://twitter.com/DeanCClark Dean Clark

        Because Terry it is YOUR responsibility to take care of your health and your children’s health… that is why!  I am tired of people blaming McDonald’s for their obesity when they are the ones with the hand and mouth disease.  McDonald’s along with Ferrero provide a product to consumers that the consumers want to buy.  I like Nutella… I eat Nutella… but I KNOW what Nutella is and make other choices over Nutella.  In America we have what is called freedom and with freedom comes a responsibility for ones own choices and actions.  In a post above you say you don’t have children then you say  if I had a child I would not want to spend my time checking labels over spending time with my child.  Dumb argument! My wife and I have 2 kids 16 and 18 and both are healthy eaters because WE have taken responsibility and WE have taught them what is good to eat and what is not.  WE spend a lot of time with our kids and WE have to buy groceries for our house and WE have made a decision that Nutella is OK once in a while and WE know that Nutella is not great but WE have read the label and WE eat it once in a while.  Ferrero does not hold a gun to anyones head to buy Nutella… it is the RESPONSIBILITY of the parents to provide good nutritious food for their kids by… reading labels.

      • Colten Romans

        so you’re saying if the television says its good for you, you do it? are you a grown man or a child? you have a brain, I’m sure it works, use it.

    • Terrymadden139

      I don’t get you people defending these company’s. Why should you have to read a label if they are claiming its good for you. The consumer didn’t claim it’s healthy the company did. It has nothing to do with growing up. It’s about making company’s take responcablity to its product. People are dieing because of all the crap thats in some of are food. I bet if you read something that said its fine for you to eat and later found out it wasn’t what you thought it was you would be angery. We shouldn’t have to have a degree in sience to know what something means or is. The companies do everything they can to hide what’s bad for the consumers. And no I don’t have kids and yes I try to find out what everything means on the label. It takes a lot of time to look it up. So if I had a child I would not want to spend my time checking labels over spending time with my child.

    • 22tteloiv

      Many are under the assumption that there are no lies in a commercial, so they are believed at face value. They don’t realize either that psychology is being used on them to buy the product and don’t know they need to be thinking critically about everything they hear and see.

  • Joe

    Read the label.

  • http://twitter.com/QuipsTravails Michele Hays

    Nutella sits next to the peanut butter, and the package claims it contains “hazelnuts, milk and cocoa” and is “part of a healthy breakfast.”  The label is on the back of the jar in very fine print, and doesn’t face the consumer in the grocery store.  (Watch the TV ad and see if it’s an accurate portrayal of the product.)

    The ads work by playing on the false assumptions of consumers.  Ferrero USA is welcome to put their jar by the Marshmallow fluff and label it “a tasty hazelnut-flavored chocolate candy spread.”  The question isn’t why people don’t read the label – the question is why Ferrero USA presented their product this way.

    Even given consumer responsibility, are you “read-the-label” folks saying it’s OK for a company to use an advertising campaign whose primary purpose is to distract customers from the information on the label?  Do we really want to live in an America where the groceries are run by sleazy used-car salesmen?

    • Guest

      Apparently yes, people DO want to live in an America like that because things like this nutella lawsuit is brand new news to people. 75% of the products in the grocery store are probably doing the same things or worse than nutella. No one is saying its OK, but that’s how most things are advertised and it’s on you to look into how truthful it is, whether it’s food or not. it shouldn’t be like this but it is and its on us to change it by asking for high quality nutritious food and not the cheapest and fastest “food”.

      • http://twitter.com/QuipsTravails Michele Hays

        That’s the point – why should we tolerate it? Why is it that we are obliged to read a paragraph of 3-point type to figure out if a food has any nutritive value?

    • Colten Romans

      distract consumers, you must have no mental capacity if you believe that bullshit, how about you use your brain and read the label or are you too busy sitting on your ass?

      • http://twitter.com/QuipsTravails Michele Hays

        Nice.

  • responsible adult

    That is ridiculous.  Take some responsibility in your life!!  Read the label.  Who is dumb enough to think that chocolate is good to eat every day. No one should get any money from a lawsuit

  • Tpeale1

    So a mother took nutrition advice from a commercial??  So when is that the right or intelligent thing to do? That child is gonna have more issues with health growing up then what Nutella ever did to her because her mommy doesn’t have any idea what good nutrition is which means the foods she is eating are of poor quality which are damaging to her childs body. So is the child gonna sue her mom for feeding her poor food and not teaching her better eating habits when she grows up?  I am just saying . . .

    • Guest

      They probably have McDonald’s for dinner every night too, I saw a billboard that said “100% beef” that’s super healthy right? LOL

  • Dreamsbytina

    So how do i get my refund for my UNHEALTHY spread?? Cuz I paid 6.00 for the big jar. Several times.

  • http://www.trade-schools.net/blog/author/Jen-Johnston.aspx Jen

    First of all, you just have to taste Nutella to get a pretty good idea it’s full of sugar.

    Second of all, there’s a label with ingredients and nutritional information on it (It’s not that small).

    It’s a little sad that this mom took such extreme measures, rather that simply turning the jar around, but there are likely millions of other parents that don’t read labels either. 

    Having said that, maybe a little publicity and public shaming of the product’s producer will save a few more kids from having this for breakfast (as long as that doesn’t mean Fruit Loops instead).

  • http://www.trade-schools.net/blog/author/Jen-Johnston.aspx Jen

    First of all, you just have to taste Nutella to get a pretty good idea it’s full of sugar.

    Second of all, there’s a label with ingredients and nutritional information on it (It’s not that small).

    It’s a little sad that this mom took such extreme measures, rather that simply turning the jar around, but there are likely millions of other parents that don’t read labels either. 

    Having said that, maybe a little publicity and public shaming of the product’s producer will save a few more kids from having this for breakfast (as long as that doesn’t mean Fruit Loops instead).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1111674913 Angela Williams

    Shocker….all the calories and fat are listed right on the back of the product. Read the label no matter what the stupid commercial says. 

  • Soojalee59

    Ridiculous lawsuit. Like a mom needs a commercial to tell what is healthy. Read the labels and decide for yourself. Nutella is healthier than candy.

  • Dee Rhodes

    Um, I get my store brand knock off, at 160 calories, 9g fat, (3g sat fat), sodium 10mg, total carbs 20, 1g fiber, 19 sugars, 2g protein. Not *much* better, and I like the taste better. Not health food, but cheaper and marginally healthier than Nutella.

  • Anonymous

    What cracks me up is how this person totally FAILED to read the label on the jar and then held them accountable for her ignorance.  This is bad enough when you’re ignorant with what you put in your own mouth but what kind of mother doesn’t read a nutritional label???  Ugh!!!

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see how that commercial could make one think the food is healthy. I mean, you could use almost the exact same dialog talking about frosted flakes or fruit loops, and you wouldn’t think it was healthy.

  • Laurel B

    A couple of comments mentioned Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend, which I have a jar of here. It is marginally better, with only 7g sugars per 2 T serving size. Ingredient list: dry roasted hazelnuts; dry roasted almonds; organic evaporated cane sugar; organic cocoa; organic cocoa butter; organic palm fruit oil; natural vanilla; sea salt. I like that the label asked: “Do you eat cake frosting for breakfast?” That’s basically what Nutella is. If you HAVE to have a chocolate hazelnut spread as an occasional treat, seems Justin’s would be the way to go. Not particularly healthy either, but we all need a treat sometime.

  • Yram_4084

    I think it is sad when we sue over every little thing. I come on, can you honestly tell me that she thought it had that much chocolate and it was good for you. Come on people somewhere hopefully there are some people who actually have common sense and know how to use it. This is something that should go on a show called dumb and dumber.

  • Beno

    Reading these posts is very enlightening! I think what is missing is that it is the FDA’s job to keep our food sources safe. THE FDA are the ones that have allowed these additives. THE FDA allow “natural” products to be only 1% natural. It is the American peoples RESPONSIBILITY to elect our government to do OUR WILL! VOTE, CALL, WRITE LETTERS, OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU!

    • SteveT

      What “additives” are you talking about?  I don’t see ingredients on the list that are controversial from a safety perspective.  And you are 100% wrong about your “1% natural” statement.  FDA has no such rule.  It allows “natural” flavors under 21 CFR 101.22 and then generally allows use of term “natural” to describe products where the use of such term is truthful and not misleading, and the product does not contain any artificial colors, synthetic substances, or additives not normally expected to be in a food. 

  • Beth

    I am for personal responsibility but I’m also for corporate responsibility. No, we shouldn’t believe everything we are told and need to look out for ourselves. However, companies should be held accountable for false advertising so I am in complete agreement with this verdict.

  • Crzyjanb

    OMG! It’s chocolate!!!!What would make you think a jar of chocolate for breakfast is healthy. I personally love Nutella but I am smart enough to know chocolate for breakfast isn’t healthy. It was their choice to eat it and I can’t believe they sued the company, no one twisted their arm. When will people be responsible for themselves.

  • Crzyjanb

    OMG! It’s chocolate!!!!What would make you think a jar of chocolate for breakfast is healthy. I personally love Nutella but I am smart enough to know chocolate for breakfast isn’t healthy. It was their choice to eat it and I can’t believe they sued the company, no one twisted their arm. When will people be responsible for themselves.

  • Junebugent

    Seriously! Bottom line people is to read the labels. Be smart, advertisers get paid to over exaggerate their clients products.

  • Elisa
  • Arlimyst

    Ok, I’ve read a lot of comments here and it seems to me that most have missed the point. The issue, and lawsuit had nothing to do with how healthy or not the product is, but with the false advertising by the company. The company settled quietly because they were guilty of that, agreed to a fine and modified their advertising accordingly.
    The end result is advertising that presents the product in a positive, but not misleading, way. It is actually a win, win situation. Consumers can know about a product and decide if they like it based on their own judgement, combining taste, costs, health value, and allergy issues.
    My own opinion is that this was a good step and it would be good if more companies were put under the truth radar.

  • Max_Freedom

    It’s a liquid candy bar.
    Who is dumb enough not to know that?

  • Max_Freedom

    Their slogan is still ‘Breakfast never tasted this good.’
    How about a big bowl of ice cream and some french fries for breakfast?
    Sounds delicious.