Nutella manufacturer faces lawsuit over nutrition claims

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

A consumer class action lawsuit has been filed against Ferrero USA in a San Diego federal court, accusing it of falsely portraying Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread as part of a nutritious breakfast for children.

The name plaintiff, Ms. Athena Hohenberg, mother of a four-year-old child, claims she was ‘shocked’ when she found out that the spread was unhealthy and “the next best thing to a candy bar”​ through speaking with friends. She said she had bought the spread because she sought a healthy snack or breakfast alternative for her household.

Hohenberg complains that the company’s commercials portray Nutella as “an example of a tasty yet balanced breakfast” ​in association with a picture of fresh fruits, whole wheat toast and orange juice.

“Nutella, however, contains about 70% saturated fat and processed sugars by weight,”​ the court document reads. “Both these ingredients contribute significantly to America’s alarming increases in childhood obesity, which can lead to lifelong health problems. Therefore, Nutella is not part of a nutritionally ‘balanced’ breakfast for consumption by children, as Defendant’s advertising deceptively suggests.”

The case alleges that the advertising of Nutella violates consumer protection laws by portraying it as a healthy, nutritious breakfast for children, and demands that Ferrero be barred from advertising Nutella as healthy or nutritious and launch a ‘corrective advertising campaign.’ It also demands that consumers be refunded for their Nutella purchases, claiming that revenues gained through Nutella sales were “unjustly acquired through acts of unlawful, unfair and/or fraudulent competition.”

Nutella’s maker Ferrero USA has refused to comment specifically on the case, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, company spokesperson Elise Titan said: “We stand behind the quality and ingredients of Nutella hazelnut spread and the advertising of our product.”

The court documents are online here​.

Related topics Regulation

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Posted by SFJD,

Why didn't she just look at the ingredients and nutrition facts?

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Lard: Part of a Healthy Breakfast

Posted by Lori Lieberman,

Nutella has been marketed brilliantly in the past year, resulting in Ms. Hohenberg and others perceiving that it has some nutritional value for their little ones. Personally, it has struck me too, that it has recently increased in popularity, in spite of it's saturated fat and sugar content.

But suing the company? Clearly over the top! On the other hand, reality checking about Nutella's real value--that it tastes good (to some), while hardly a healthy component of breakfast, would be less misleading.
A block of lard can be said to be part of a healthy breakfast (as long as those other parts are like the items listed by Ferrero in their ad!).
Lori Lieberman, RD, CDE, MPH, LDN

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She didn't read the label?

Posted by Diana,

Which is why this information is available. You can then choose whether the item is appropriate or not BEFORE you purchase.

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