Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nutella sued for false nutritional claims

What? You're kidding. Nutella isn't really health food?

While many commenters are calling this lawsuit frivolous because simply looking at the Nutella nutrition label will tell anyone who can read that the product is full of sugar and fat, turns out many people don't pay attention and are duped by Nutella's advertisements that suggest a health association with their product.

Funny, I've spoken to many cool headed people who read quite well, but still believe Nutella is healthy food made mostly from hazelnuts.  They usually display complete disbelief when they learn Nutella doesn't qualify as healthy food.  How are people getting the impression that Nutella is healthy eating?

Nutella lost the 3 million dollar lawsuit, which includes an order to re-do their advertising claims.  The lawsuit was in the US and does not affect Canadian customers: Some US costumers will be refunded $4.00 for their purchase of Nutella.

 Many fitness enthusiasts, particularly those inclined to endurance sports like running, cycling, and cross country skiing, also seem to be duped. Nutella is a favorite amongst many endurance enthusiasts and athletes alike.

For years I've been asking people, "why do you eat that stuff, it's all sugar and fat"

The response is always, "what are you talking about!?  Hazelnuts are healthy!  This is a great way for me to get a great tasting spread on my multigrain.."  Everyone thinks Nutella is made of hazelnuts.  Where do they get this idea?  What is this stuff made from?

Let's take a look:

From the Nutella website:

"At NUTELLA® we know breakfast is really important to the long-term well-being and success of Canada's children."

The entire Nutella website has references to healthy living and eating on every page. Of course they're right.. healthy eating and physical activities are a good thing and everyone should hop on board. 

The advertising tag line is nutella, fuel the day.

Getting in the proper fuel is equally important for sports performance as it is for a day hike or any lengthy physical activity.

Would I choose Nutella for my fuel for a 3 hour mountain bike ride.. or 8 hours.. 24 hours?

Sorry to say, Nutella would not make the cut in my bread basket. 

Not a lot of nutrient density here.  Sure is calorie dense though.  100 calories for a tablespoon.

From Wikipedia:

"According to the product label, the main ingredients of Nutella are sugar and vegetable oils (mostly palm oil[5]), followed by hazelnutcocoa solids, and skimmed milk. In the United States, Nutella contains soy products.[6] Nutella is marketed as "hazelnut cream" in many countries. Under Italian law, it cannot be labeled as a chocolate cream, as it does not meet minimum cocoa solids concentration criteria. About half of the calories in Nutella come from fat (11 g in a 37 g serving, or 99 kcal out of 200 kcal) and about 40% of the calories come from sugar (20 g, 80 kcal).[7]"

Is this really a hazelnut spread?  Sure it is.  There are hazelnuts in there.  If we went by what makes up most of Nutella we might be inclined to call it a sugar spread, or maybe a fat spread.

A point made by many is, "that's the point Cris, it has a lot of calories. Duh!" That's why it's suggested to be good for endurance events where you blow off thousands of calories.

Actually, research shows that while replacing some of our carbohydrates with fats still fuels the body for long events, carbohydrate rich foods are still proven to be the top performing calorie source.  All day events require a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, and Nutella does deliver lots of sugar and fat.

Something to be mindful of; too much fat or too high of a concentration of sugars will slow gastric emptying (the rate food leaves stomach is impaired), and could cause stomach upset in some during endurance events.

Comparatively you're better off with an energy bar (read the label) than Nutella for endurance fuel (or baked potato, prunes, figs, rasins, banana's), and for sure stick with the standard 6 - 7% carbohydrate solution in your bottle (most sports drinks have this solution: read the label though).

There are plenty of great tasting choices that are more nutrient dense, healthier, and better for endurance fuel or part of healthy daily eating than Nutella.

The push back for this story is that consumers are making their own dumb choice, why should a corporation have to pay for that?  Interesting.. So when a corporation clearly makes a concerted effort to portray their product as being something it's not, the corporation has no culpability in doing so, that's just business. 

If someone believes purposefully misleading advertising, the advertiser has nothing to do with that; it can only be the consumers fault.  Only 100% the consumers fault.. no responsibility whatsoever on the manufacturers behalf. It should be legal to advertise any claim, false or real, regardless of the outcome.

That sounds pretty weird.

Your last line of defence as a consumer is reading the label, as it has been shown repeatedly that while there are plenty of good products made from good companies, there are a few products that toute false claims.  Read the label and if there is a health claim attached to anything, scrutinize it, because savvy soothsayers know we can be duped by the promise of hope and health.

Many love the taste of Nutella and for many that will be good enough (the performance sacrifice is worth the taste), but if you're thinking Nutella is a good choice for healthy nutrition take a second look.. US law courts did..