Turns out a California mom is filing a class action lawsuit against Ferrero, the maker of Nutella for making wrongful health claims, according to NPR and reported on Mother Nature Network. It seems the mother, Athena Hohenberg, was shocked when she learned from friends that the famous hazelnut spread that she has been feeding to her 4 year old daughter for a "healthful breakfast" was made with 21 grams of sugar as well as palm oil.
Frivolous lawsuits are generally upsetting to the majority of us. The idea of suing a company because you didn't read the label on the side panel seems like you're shifting the blame. While I've always adored the spread (especially in my favorite gelato in Florence), I was never under the impression that it was considered healthful.
That said, false advertising and calling foods that are most certainly dessert items good for breakfast isn't good business practice either. As Mother Nature Network first reported, under the 'Tips For Moms' section on Nutella's Web site, registered dietitian and mother of three, Connie Evers had this to say:
The "best" breakfast is the one that will be eaten! With the unique taste of Nutella®, kids may think they are eating a treat for breakfast, while moms are helping nourish their children with whole grains. A slice of whole wheat toast spread with Nutella®, a serving of fresh fruit and a cup of yogurt or 1% milk provides perfect balanced nutrition to start the day.
While they never claim that Nutella is out and out healthy, this advertising is questionable at best. The idea that you need to feed your kids a dessert just so they'll eat breakfast is downright frightening.
Jennifer Harris, the director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy at Yale University, which tracks food advertising, had this to say about the ads to NPR's SHOTS.
"The main problem [with Nutella] is it has 21 grams of sugar, which is 5 teaspoons of sugar," she says. "That's obviously not healthy." Instead, the company focuses on the low sodium, the hazelnuts or the skim milk in Nutella. "This is one reason the public health community thinks there needs to be more regulation over what is allowed to be promoted as healthy," she adds.