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Nutella Went to Court to Prove Its Superiority

A perfectly scrumptious blend of chocolate and hazelnut, Nutella is universally recognized as pure indulgence in a jar. And now Nutella fanatics can rejoice with the news that their favorite dessert has been vindicated in a court of law.

The legal issues started back in 2013 when Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize began manufacturing a faux Nutella product it dubbed Choco spread. The company packaged the product nearly exactly the same as the real thing, but claimed its version was superior by marketing it as a healthier, more environmentally friendly option.

Here’s the thing about Nutella: It’s made with palm oil, which is typically considered to be a not-so-healthy cooking oil option (it’s high in saturated fats, can be difficult to digest if it is heavily refined and, probably the most worrisome, may be carcinogenic). Because palm oil hails from the tropics, there was also concern about the environmental and social repercussions involved in its harvesting, as tropical habitats are often cleared to pave the way for palm plantations.

The company behind Choco formulated its product using sunflower oil, cocoa butter and coconut oil instead. On the package, it bragged that it was “palm oil-free,” suggesting that it was more healthful and environmentally friendly than Nutella.

Ferrero, the company that owns Nutella, wasn’t going to stand for it and took Delhaize to court. Ferrero maintained it was “illegal” to claim a food is better than another product because of palm oil and asserted that while, yes, it does use a lot of palm oil, it’s done sustainably — so much so that the company has been applauded by the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace for its efforts.

As for palm oil’s health effects, Ferrero maintained that it’s impossible for Delhaize to claim that its ingredients are any healthier than palm oil. After all, recent research has called into question the risks of all vegetable oils, including palm and sunflower oil. And the appeal court agreed with them, ruling that Choco’s marketing claims are “illegal.” If they attempt to sell the imposter under the claim that it is “better” for the health or environment, they will be fined nearly $28,000 per offense.

Some Nutella fans may view this as good news and proof of the spread’s superiority, but unfortunately it isn’t a free pass to hit the jar hard tonight. Keep in mind that just a two-tablespoon serving contains a whopping 12 grams of fat, 200 calories, 23 grams of carbohydrates and 21 grams of sugar — the same amount of sugar as five Oreo cookies. Like any indulgence, consume in moderation!

What Do YOU Think?

Are you a Nutella junkie? How do you feel about this recent legal win? Do you feel like products are marketed fairly?