An ingredient in the famous chocolate spread Nutella could potentially cause cancer, studies said. Processed palm oil is the offending ingredient which put the popular breakfast treat for children and other chocolate products under crisis.
Following the report, supermarkets in Italy have started pulling products containing a harmful amount of processed palm oil from the shelves.
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said that contaminants created when palm oil is refined are carcinogenic.
The issue was first noticed after Coop, Italy’s biggest supermarket chain, pulled nearly 200 products from its shelves last May.
Coop, as a reason to pull these products which include its own products, said they contain refined palm oil which increases the risk of developing cancer.
Studies said processed palm oil is being used in many other products apart from chocolate spreads, including chocolate bars, sandwich spreads.
In the wake of the news, the EFSA has also raised concerns about baby milk formulas containing the carcinogenic compounds.
Though the study affected all products containing processed palm oil, Nutella was zeroed after the spread manufacturer, Ferrero, tried to defend its products through television advertisement.
The campaign held by the food production giant is being considered to have backfired so badly so that those unknown about the row also came to know about it and refrained from buying it.
The EFSA, said the contaminants are found in all vegetable oil while palm oil contained a high level of it. The study by the EFSA said they are produced while oils are refined in high temperatures. Palm oil is heated by the makers of these spreads at high temperatures around 200 degrees Celsius to get rid of its smell and colour.
Ferrero, while responding to the controversy, said that if it replaces palm oil with other oils like sunflower oil, Nutella's character would change.
Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product, it would be a step backwardVincenzo Tapella, Ferrero’s purchasing manager
It is believed that it will also make huge economic implications on the company as the coast for other oils are far more costly than palm oil.