Until now, there is no other viable substitute for palm oil that can enable people to spread food so easily on a slice of bread. Almost all commercial products such as baked goods, chips, snacks, candy or frozen products contain this key ingredient. Among them, Nutella is the main advocate for the benefits of palm oil. The company declared that without it, their chocolate cream would not have the same texture. However, a May review from the European Food Safety Authority found this ingredient to be a potential health concern. The European Commission is expected to take measures based on this report by the end of the year.
Ferrero, the world renowned confectionery firm and also the maker of Nutella, is the main defender of the hazelnut cream. The company created even an advertising campaign that promotes the safety of Nutella. The chocolate spread makes the company a fifth of its earnings and it is one of the most popular sweet products in the world.
Ferrero stated that without palm oil, the well known texture would not exist. There are other substitutes that other companies are using, such as sunflower oil. However, according to the company, the public would not be able to recognize the taste of Nutella in case its recipe is altered to respect the European Food Safety Authority report.
Moreover, if the company is forced to replace its palm oil, there will be further economic complications. Whereas a ton of such vegetable oil costs $800, the sunflower oil producers are asking for $845 and the rapeseed producers are starting the price from $920. Since Nuttela needs 185,000 tonnes of palm oil each year, the company will have to support $8-22 million additional costs in case for an oil substitution.
The report that started the jeopardy of the Nuttela brand does not encourage consumers to stop eating products based on palm oil. However, the study found out that the ingredient could be a higher source of carcinogenic risks than other similar products. On the other hand, consumers are safe from any health issues as long as the product is refined correctly at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius. The European Commission did not disclose upcoming measures. However, the report may suggest a certain quantitative limitation rather than a complete ban from the market.
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