Does Nutella Cause Cancer?

Yummy Nutella is making news for possibly being bad for your health. Say it isn’t so — hazelnut and chocolate … Nutella is like Ferrero Rocher candy in a spread we’ve convinced ourselves is healthy because you can spread it on toast. Plus, the mom in the commercial looks like she cares about what her kids eat.

Now, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is killing our buzz with the claim that Nutella contains glycidyl fatty acid esters or GE (a by-product of the processing of palm oil at high temperatures) which in certain concentrations may be cancer causing.

Ferrero, the Italian confectionary that makes Nutella, claims it does not process its palm oil at these high temperatures. They are not planning to phase out the use of palm oil in their products. Not only is it the cheapest vegetable oil, they argue it will compromise taste and ensure they are handling it properly as to not create the GE by-product.

Still, some food chains in Europe pulled the product off the shelves along with other products containing palm oil. From what I’ve researched, this seems unnecessary. If GE, the possible carcinogen, is only formed at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius, (392F) and Ferrero isn’t producing their products at this temperature, there is no need to panic. Of course, if you are worried and you’ll feel better taking Nutella out of your family’s diet, by all means, do it. It isn’t like we are debating the safety of green vegetables. The first two ingredients in Nutella are sugar and palm oil. The next are hazelnuts and cocoa, so when the company claims it is part of a healthy breakfast when spread on whole wheat toast, they neglect to mention it is the unhealthy part of a healthy breakfast. At 21g of sugar and 200 calories per serving (2 tbsp), your taste buds may miss it, but your waistline certainly won’t.


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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Physician, founder and president of Tips From Town. She loves combining all she learned as a doctor with all she continues to learn as a mom of five to bring you interesting, useful and fun information on the Family Pages.

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