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If it tastes too good to betrue, it probably is

Published April 06. 2013 09:03AM

If you're nuts over Nutella, you might be in line to receive $20 in reimbursement.

That's the amount some folks will receive after a $3 million lawsuit over misleading advertising against the maker.

The lawsuit was brought by plaintiff Athena Hohenberg, a California mom. She says she fed her 4-year-old daughter Nutella after seeing ads that represented the spread as "nutritious" or a "healthy breakfast."

When she found out otherwise, she felt it was time to hold the food manufacturer accountable.

For those unfamiliar, Italian-made Nutella is hazelnut spread that's been hyped lately as a suitable breakfast for kids.

The stuff isn't new. It was created in the 1940s and has been consumed in Europe for decades. It's especially popular in France.

But Ferrero USA, Inc., the maker of Nutella, began pushing this "French peanut butter" on the American market.

The language in the TV commercials seemingly wooed everybody into thinking that Nutella is a type of health food:

"Every jar has wholesome, quality ingredients, like hazelnuts, skim milk, and a hint of delicious cocoa. And Nutella has no artificial colors or preservatives. It's quick, it's easy," says the commercial.

Nutella touts the spread as ideal for busy moms trying to "nourish their children with whole grains" and says "Nutella can form a part of a balanced meal."

In reality, Nutella is over 55% processed sugar. It contains 21 grams of sugar per serving - that's five teaspoons. And half of the 200 calories per two-tablespoon serving come from palm oil, a dangerous saturated fat. Other ingredients are hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, whey (milk), lecithin as emulsifier (soy), and vanillin, an artificial flavor.

The lawsuit notes that consumption of saturated fat has been shown to cause heart disease. And let's not forget that sugar is the main ingredient.

The commercial should really say that Nutella has not only a touch of cocoa, but a touch of type-2 diabetes.

The truth is that Nutella is not peanut butter. It contains no peanuts.

Secondly, critics point out that giving your kids Nutella for breakfast is like feeding them cake frosting. Nutella is basically a spreadable candy bar.

Nutella's maker has been ordered to reimburse consumers $4 a jar, up to $20, for the misleading advertising.

And in France, that country is coming up with something called the 'Nutella Tax.'

The French Senate passed a measure that would triple the tax on palm oil and other types of vegetable oils in order to cut back on obesity among the French.

The tariff is called the Nutella Tax to acknowledge that the spread contains 17 percent palm oil.

Nobody is arguing about the taste. Nutella is yummy.

Remember when your mom baked a cake and you licked the bowl?

Or when your mom put icing on the cake and you licked the spatula?

In essence, you were enjoying the same nutrition as Nutella. Of course, that's fine as an occasional treat. But to suggest it's also part of a nourishing breakfast is a stretch.

Thankfully, people are becoming more savvy about proper nutrition and the harm of empty calories.

Nutella says it won't change its recipe. And no wonder. It's a hit, just like cake frosting.

But its role as a breakfast staple has been given a major setback by the court.

Nutella is learning that product advertising needs to have a hint of truth.

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