Hey guys! In another case that’s got me scratchin’ my head, Ferrero – the manufacturer of Nutella – is now $3 million in the hole with half a mil going to a chick in San Diego who has sued the company for health washing and $2.5 mil going to class action recipients.
From the Yahoo! Finance article:
Ferrero, the company that manufactures the highly addictive yet apparently not terribly healthy spread, has settled a $3 million lawsuit filed in February 2011 by San Diego mom Athena Hohenberg. Hohenberg, it seems, believed that Nutella was a great dietary choice for her four-year-old daughter. She claimed the company’s advertising — particularly giving TV-ad viewers the idea that Nutella was part of a nutritious breakfast (see ad below) — led to her erroneous perception.
I dunno, guys, I’m torn between wanting to bitch-slap the claimant – so representative of the obvious ignorance on the part of consumers everywhere – or congratulating the claimant for her mastery in having gotten $0.5mil(!), and/or in wagging my fist at food industry marketing giants that are increasingly skilled at leading consumers to believe eating crack is part of a healthful breakfast. I’m not typically one to stand up for the behemoth that is the Food Industry, but come on! The fact of the matter is that responsibility has to swing both ways and, frankly, responsibility is lackin’ on both ends!
The claimant argues that the Nutella TV ad is misleading. Here it is:
The female announcer’ voice says, “with a balanced breakfast, a glass of milk, a piece of fruit and two pieces of toast with Nutella, it’s amazing what they [your kids] can do.”
What’s misleading about this? She doesn’t say, “with a balanced breakfast, a glass of milk, a piece of fruit and two pieces of toast with Nutella, it’s amazing how healthy your kids will be.” She also doesn’t say how much Nutella to spread on the toast. She doesn’t say, “eat our sugar-free Nutella!” Perhaps I need to “stoop” to the average consumer who seemingly wants to believe she can eat Nutella from the jar and actually increase her health so extrapolates from the message exactly what Nutella would want: eat Nutella. It’s good for you.
The truth is – no one should be listening to food companies (or the USDA!) to tell them what’s healthful. Imagine how awful it would be to be gluten-intolerant and yet feel inclined to adhere to the wheat-lovin’ MyPlate?
I’ll be honest – Nutella isn’t a purist’s dream food, but not all of us are food purists, and, frankly, some of us choose to indulge (though I don’t choose to indulge in Nutella since it has milk in it, FYI). It comes down to being a smart & mindful consumer – and knowing that you are making a choice and what its implications are, wouldn’t you say?
These are Nutella’s ingredients:
sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (from milk), soy lecithin: an emulsifier, vanillin: an artificial flavor.
The first ingredient is sugar, which means, clearly, you don’t want to spoon-feed this to your infant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the same for most “fruit” jams. It also has palm oil, which is high in sat. fat and sourcing it is pretty destructive of the rain forest (though, Nutella does tell its consumers via its FAQ page that it’s a member of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), and “only uses palm oil which is extracted from controlled plantations in Malaysia”). It also has artificial flavors (i.e. vanillin).
If you’re so inclined, you can picture that one serving of two tablespoons (37g) of Nutella has 21 grams of sugar. Compare this to a Snickers bar (which tends to be about 57g), which has 28.8g sugars. If you break that down per gram, Nutella actually has more sugar per gram of product, with 0.57g sugar per gram of the product, than Snickers, which has 0.50g sugar per gram of product.
According to an interesting op-ed in The Atlantic recently, children ages 4 to 8 years old have a very small allowance for calories from added sugars – about 12 grams per day, to be exact. “That’s the amount in 1 cup of Kellogg’s Froot Loops. Consuming even modest portions of sugary cereals leaves no room for any other added sugars in a healthy diet for a child.” Yikes, the authors didn’t note that one serving of Nutella is more than double that amount.
I’m not sure what the answer is here. Perhaps food marketing needs to be abolished all together (can you imagine what that would do? people would really have to rely on their own smarts to choose the best products!). But the consumer needs to get smarter, too, because even if there is just a nutrition label and ingredients list, I guarantee you some dumbass is going to see “whole wheat” in his trans-fat-filled monster burrito and think it means its healthful and he can eat 20 of ‘em.
Via CTV.ca: “As part of the settlement, the front label of Nutella jars will now include info on the fat, sugar and calories of the product. As well, the ads that bothered Hohenberg will be dropped and new ads created.”
I thought info. on the fat, sugar and calories was already listed as part of the nutrition label? I guess putting it on the front makes its “issues” more salient. That said, I’m sure this woman also thought WhoNu Cookies were just as healthful as a bowl of oatmeal. I guess the point is we should actually worry less about nutrition claims made on products, front or back of the label, because we should be eating so few foods with labels in the first place!
The Cranky One