For many students, eating breakfast is the very key to an energetic start for the school day. Thus, to appease my hunger and ensure my learning, my daily breakfast consisted of toast with nutella, a widely-known hazelnut spread. One morning, the spread was missing from its usual spot on the counter. Much to my dismay, my mother trashed it after discovering that the spread may be linked to cancer.
A recent study claimed that palm oil, an ingredient in nutella, becomes carcinogenic when heated above 200 degrees. Although Ferrero, the creator of nutella, stated that its industrial processes do not reach that high of a temperature, many stores around the world are recalling nutella products back. Nowhere in the report says that people should stop consuming palm oil as a whole, but actions are already being taken despite the fact that more research is needed to draw that conclusion.
Palm oil, made from the fruits of palm trees, is used in many foods such as chocolate, cookies, butter, ice cream, and pizza dough. Ultimately, palm oil gives nutella its creamy texture, and making the product without it would result in an inferior spread, Vincenzo Tapella, Ferrero’s purchasing manager said. It is also the best in avoiding the hydrogenation process, which would release unhealthy trans fats.
As manufacturers of nutella continue to repudiate spread-linked-to-cancer claims, I believe it is still safe to consume the hazelnut spread as it is very easy to get swept up food panics when the entire research is not there yet.