For many of us, the chocolate deliciousness of Nutella is our turn to food for stress or when nothing else quiets our hunger. It is meant as a spread, but we scoop it out and shove it in. Now, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released a new study that has deemed palm oil a likely carcinogen. Someone, please say it isn’t so.
THE EFSA study stated that palm oil has the potential to cause cancer when it is processed at high temperatures. The study found that when certain vegetable oils are refined the carcinogens: “glycidyl fatty acid esters, 3-monochloropropanediol, and 2-monochloropropanediol are formed.” Tests show that palm oil and palm fats had the highest levels of these carcinogens, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The study lists cakes and margarine as the main source of these carcinogens from which consumers are exposed. The study did not mention Nutella, but palm oil is the main ingredient of the product.
Nutella is owned by the Italian based company Ferrero. Besides the newly alleged cancer-causing carcinogens, the gathering of palm oil has also caused deforestation, higher greenhouse gas emissions, the extinction of certain species and human rights violations.
To help prevent some of the damage caused in the process of producing palm tree oil Ferrero penned the Palm Oil Charter, which stated that the company guaranteed that in the production of Nutella the company would not take part in the abuses that took place for palm oil. Ferrero also joined the Palm Oil Innovation Group, which works towards reforming the palm oil industry, reports The Sun.
Ferrero’s efforts resulted in Greenpeace naming the company to its 2016 Palm Oil scorecard. After the new study was released Ferrero immediately refuted the claims. The company called the study an “opportunistic view” and that its conclusion that palm oil can potentially cause cancer is false.
On its website, Nutella referred to a 1980 U.S. campaign that targeted palm oil because of potential health effects. It went on to explain that the scientific community proved the claims to be false and the palm oil industry rose to the top again.
When palm oil is processed, high temperatures are used to remove its natural red color. The high temperatures also neutralize the smell of palm oil. Ferrero states that it uses a different process that combines temperatures that are below 200°C. The company also states that it uses extremely low pressure that minimizes the chances of contaminants, reports the News Observer.
The company shares that the process is more time-consuming and costs an estimated 20 percent more than refining it with high temperatures. The EFSA has refused to respond to whether a lower temperature process used to create Nutella has its risks or makes consumption safer.
By Tammy Marie Rose