EFSA warns of the carcinogenic effects of palm oil
Many children and adults like to eat Nutella for breakfast. A main component of the tasty nut nougat cream is palm oil. But now there is unfortunately bad news for all Nutella lovers. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) warned that processing palm oil at high temperatures could potentially be carcinogenic.
A new study in December found that there appears to be a link between palm oil and the aggressive spread of cancer in mice. The European Food Safety Authority also classifies palm oil as a possible carcinogen. If the palm oil is processed at a high temperature (approx. 200 degrees Celsius), it appears to be potentially carcinogenic, the experts explain in a press release.
These carcinogens can be found in vegetable oil:
When examining certain vegetable oils, EFSA found that the following carcinogens are formed: 3-monochloropropanediol (3-MCPD) and 2-monochloropropanediol (2-MCPD). The highest levels of these substances were found in palm oil and palm fat.
Negative effects of palm oil production
EFSA said that margarine, pastries and cakes are the main source of palm oil consumption. For example, EFSA does not warn directly of the consumption of the nut nougat cream. Still, palm oil is a key ingredient in Nutella. In addition to suspecting cancer, palm oil has a history with several far-reaching negative effects. These include, for example, deforestation, the extinction of various types of living things, numerous violations of human rights and high greenhouse gas emissions.
Ferrero distances itself from the allegations
Ferrero already wrote in response to a statement that palm oil used in Nutella does not contribute to any of the negative effects mentioned above. The Italian company also became a member of the so-called Palm Oil Innovation Group. This initiative aims to reform the palm oil industry is explained on the Nutella website.
Ferrero: There is no concrete evidence of the harmful effects of palm oil
On its website, the Ferrero company also directly contradicts the alleged negative health effects: Contrary to some opportunistic views, it is incorrect to say that palm oil is harmful to human health. A 1980 campaign from the USA is also cited, warning of the dangerous effects of palm oil on health. At that time, scientists refuted this statement. So the consumption of palm oil rose again.
These products contain palm oil
Even so, EFSA's latest report raises legitimate concerns about the safety of palm oil consumption. There are numerous processed foods that contain palm oil. These include, for example, packaged bread, ice cream and margarine. However, some non-edible items also contain palm oil. These include products such as lipsticks and detergents.
Ferrero Launches Nutella Security Campaign
Nutella accounts for about a fifth of Ferrero's sales. For this reason, the company launched an advertising campaign to convince the public of the safety of Nutella.
Palm oil makes Nutella creamy and long-lasting
According to the Reuters news agency, palm oil is responsible for Nutella’s creamy texture and long shelf life. Producing Nutella without palm oil would result in an inferior product replacement, Vincenzo Tapella, Ferrero's purchasing manager, told Reuters.
Ferrero uses approximately 185,000 tons of palm oil annually
Palm oil is the cheapest vegetable oil. Ferrero uses around 185,000 tons of this ingredient each year. The use of other oils could affect the consistency of the product, thereby reducing sales and also massively increasing Ferrero's costs.
Further investigations are necessary
EFSA cannot issue regulations. In addition, the authority does not recommend that palm oil consumption should be stopped in general. Nonetheless, EFSA declares that palm oil is a potentially harmful ingredient and therefore requires further investigation. The European Commission is currently conducting an ongoing investigation on this issue. Nutella may be sugary and very sweet, but the claims about palm oil still leave the consumer with a particularly bitter aftertaste. (as)