Ferrero is attempting to shut down claims that palm oil, a key ingredient in Nutella may cause cancer. The Italian food giant has launched an advertising campaign in Italy to strengthen consumer confidence that palm oil used in Nutella is 100 percent safe to eat, Reuters reported.
“Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product, it would be a step backward,” purchasing manager Vincenzo Tapella of Ferrero told Reuters. Previously in May the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had warmed the company about contaminants in palm oil could raise potential health concerns. The EFSA suspects that the key component in palm oil is glycidyl fatty acid esters of ‘GE’ which when processed or when refined at temperatures over 393 Fahrenheit may pose a carcinogenic risk.
Scientific research shows that GE poses a cancer risk, Chair of EFSA’s expert panel on contaminants in the food Chain, Helle Knutsen, said in a statement in May 2016. “There is sufficient evidence that glycidol is genotoxic and carcinogenic. Therefore, the CONTAM Panel did not set a safe level for GE,” Knutsen claimed.
In response to Knutsen’s statement, several retailers have removed palm oil from their products, Reuters said. Ferrero may be struggling to remove palm oil from their product because it is the cheapest vegetable oil on the market. The EFSA have not gone so far as to advise consumers to halt all consumption of palm oil and stated that there needs to be more research done before any more claims are made.
Other organizations such as the (WHO) World Health Organization and the U.N. Food Agriculture Organization have agreed that there are some concerns but have not advised consumers to halt consumption of products with palm oil.