Health & Fitness

NUTELLA is a cancer risk now?

Could you REALLY live without the delicious spread?!

We're not even halfway through January yet and we're already being bombarded by yet ANOTHER potentially cancerous food to cut out of your diet.

But asking us to cut one of the most delicious things on the planet out of our diets is just a big no-no, in our eyes.

A modern-day cupboard staple, can you imagine a life without... Nutella?!

No, we didn't think so.

Delicious Nutella on toast (Credit: Getty Images)

This fuss has been kicked up after a European report claimed that refined palm oil can increase your risk of cancer, and as Nutella uses palm oil, there's been a bit of a ruckus.

The oil apparently keeps the smooth texture of the tasty chocolate and hazelnut butter, and keeps its shelf life nice and long.

The European Food Safety Authority who conducted the study said in May that the oil's cancerous risk was increased above other vegetable oils once it had been refined at temperatures over 200°C - but it didn't suggest that people stop eating it, and said that a bigger study would need to be done to really assess the risk.

The Italian firm behind Nutella, Ferrero, have taken a public stand against the claims, and launched an advertising campaign to reassure the public that their flagship product is, in fact, safe.

They said: "The health and safety of consumers is an absolute and first priority for Ferrero and we confirm that Ferrero products are safe. EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has analysed the presence of contaminants in a large number of products and oils stating that the presence of contaminants depends on the oils and fats used as well as the processes they are subjected to.

"It is for this reason that Ferrero carefully selects quality raw materials and applies specific industrial processes that limit their presence to minimum levels, fully in line with the parameters defined by the EFSA. In addition, our Quality teams constantly monitor such factors and guarantee the food safety of our products to the consumer."

According to the company, other substitutes, such as sunflower oil, would change the well-known and well-loved taste and texture of the product.

Speaking to Reuters, Ferrero's purchasing manager Vincenzo Tapella said: "Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product - it would be a step backward."

Industrial food manufacturers use high temperatures to remove the natural red colour of palm oil and control the smell, but Ferrero says it uses an industrial process that is a combination of a temperature just below 200°C and extremely low pressure which reduces the risk of contamination.

Ferrero also told Reuters that their process takes much longer and costs the company 20% more than high-temperature refining, but that this method allowed it to bring the levels of Glycidyl Esters (GE) so low that scientific instruments found it hard to trace the chemical. (SIAM - is this too scientific? Should it just say "but this method made it much safer in general"?)

In the TV advert which was part of their campaign, Mr Tapella says: "The palm oil used by Ferrero is safe because it comes from freshly squeezed fruits and is processed at controlled temperatures," with full-page newspaper ads saying the same thing.

A move to use other oils in Nutella could also potentially cost Ferrero an extra $8-22 million annually - which inevitably means that our beloved spread would increase in price quite drastically.

We don't know about you, but we're happy to take the risk on this one.

Many people on Twitter agree with us, too.

Would you stop eating Nutella if it was found to be cancerous? Let us know over on Facebook and Twitter.

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