/ Food & Drink, Health

Nutella – scared nut-less by a new healthy proposal


Nutella, Italy’s delicious hazelnut (and chocolate) spread, has long been the topping of choice for kids around the world. High in calcium, crammed with nuts, what’s not to like?

I have a confession to make – not only do I love Nutella on my morning slice of wholegrain toast, I’ve always felt I was doing my body a service.

I’ve even been known to have a couple of Nutella servings for desert. Yummy, lots of hazelnuts in my tummy.

Turns out, I’ve been duped. Yes, yes, I’m naïve. But how should I know that a deliciously sweet and creamy chocolate spread is bad for my health?

Don’t hide the ingredients Nutella

Which? has fought battles against the misrepresentation of food products, with Nutella being a key fibber. It’s simple – foods can’t advertise a claim to be healthy if they’re high in unhealthy ingredients, like fat and sugar.

We’ve even succeeded in getting a misleading Nutella ad banned in 2008. Not only did the ad claim that the spread released energy slowly, it also implied that it was made from just hazelnuts, skimmed milk and cocoa powder. In fact, sugar counts for over half its ingredients.

Now Nutella’s creator, Italian chocolate maker Ferrero, is scared nut-less by a new proposal sent to the European Parliament. If approved it’ll stop companies claiming that their products are healthy, when in fact they’re very high in sugar, fat or salt.

What’s the problem Nutella?

Ferrero should actually feel relieved – plans for a traffic light food labelling system have already been shelved (to our disappointment).

But most of Italy isn’t happy. Their love for the hazelnut-chocolate paste runs deep in their arteries. And they feel their cultural icon is in danger, with one government official launching a ‘Hands off Nutella’ committee.

Yet, Nutella won’t be banned and it won’t need warnings telling us it’s unhealthy. All that’s been asked is that children and parents aren’t misled by hidden fat and sugar. And as far as advertisements go, why not just boast that Nutella’s tasty and delicious? Then we can still enjoy it, but know that we shouldn’t gorge ourselves.

Hell, Nutella’s marketing buttered me up and now I’m going to have to work my way through the stacks of Nutella jars in my cupboard to banish its tempting chocolaty-ness. I’m sure I’ll find it a chore…

Kevin Keegan says:
11 July 2010

Has anyone really ever believed Nutella was a heathly breakfast choice. Its a big tub of chocolate, no?

I had scrambled cadburys creme eggs for breakfast this morning.

Hazelnut spread. Deep fried Mars bars – best start to the day.

Sandie & Gray says:
15 July 2010

I am one of the goodness knows how many who believed that Nutella was diet friendly due to it's wholesome contents. It should say exactly what it is – I thought that was EU law or is it a british law or is it law at all ? As usual we are being deliberately mislead.

Richard Kinley says:
15 July 2010

Oh dear. Anyone who thinks a sweet chocolate spread is anything other than packed full of calories and sugar isn't to be trusted with a shopping trolley.

Would it change your mind if they told you how unhealthy it is. A bit of self discipline if your conserned
regarding your weight

Why would anyone ban a food just because taken in excess it is "unhealthy"? Water qualifies as unhealthy under this regime as too much will cause an imbalance known as "water intoxication". We should accept that some people are not too smart and left on their own will do things that eventually improve the gene pool.

Bad boys Ferrero, go to bed and no Nutella on your breakfast toast tomorrow.


I love nutella but because I know it’s full of sugar etc and massively high in calories I very rarely buy it because I have rubbish will power (same with peanut butter). It just means I appreciate it more when I do have it. Any one who thought it was even remotely healthy really isn’t paying attention.

I can’t quite bring myself to say that I am shocked that anyone ever believed that Nutella was anything other than extremely bad for you in anything except the tiniest of quantities: sadly over the years I have realised that most people believe most adverts most of the time – which is of course why adverts are successful in their job except with people like me (a tiny minority I suspect) who instantly boycott any product that is heavily advertised on the basis that if it was rally any good, it would not need advertising as word of mouth would be all that was required.

However, that isn’t really the point here: Nutella is one of a vast number of food products that would be far less popular if the law required explicit details in easy-to-see and easy-to-understand terms of what was in them. In this respect the debate here is very similar to several other Which? conversations such as the ones about Green claims on products that are not green at all, lack of clarity on energy bills and being able to understand if replacing an old appliance with a new one marked “energy saving” will actually save you any energy at all or in fact mean that you use more energy.

In all of these cases what is required is a simple law making it mandatory for all products to have an explicit list of ingredients (edibles and cleaning products) and an explicit declaration of actual energy use (not “more than” or “less than” or “energy saving”, etc.) for gas and electrical appliances.

My own view is that no government will ever willingly pass such a law because they rely too heavily on the various incomes (VAT, business rates, taxes, etc.) generated by the sales of these items and if the truth was known sales would fall, reducing those income streams.

Kids love it

tried the Tesco cheapy alternative – they hated it.

Advertising is not to inform, it’s to make you buy.
Food manufacturers don’t give a damn about filling our shelves with near poisonous processed goo which will rot out our insides, their concern is us proving it and then suing them. There bottom line is profit, not the delivery of healthy nutritious food.
So why are we constantly surprised by the fact that we are misled by the information (or lack of) provided by the food manufacturers.
For the record, I don’t like Nuttella, always found it too sweet [now I know why], but oddly enough I would die for Ferreo Rocher. do you think they put salt in them to offset the sweetness.

Unlike M, it is usually spammers that re-open old Conversations with nothing worthwhile to add. It’s becoming a plague. Any plans for Which? to do something about it Patrick?

At least the spammers make kind – if pointless – comments, use capitals letters where appropriate and rarely post entire messages in upper case. 🙂

Thanks Patrick.

And another one’s just appeared, promoting a payday loan company. Not at all harmless in my book. The sooner these leeches are outlawed the better.