Nutella can cause cancer!!!

The Italian company Ferrero that produces that delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread, might be in trouble, big time.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently proclaims palm oil, an ingredient in their favorite spread, a possible carcinogen. The study, released by the EFSA last May, does not say that Nutella can cause cancer. What the study does say is that palm oil, an ingredient in Nutella, releases potentially carcinogenic chemicals when refined at high temperatures.

EFSA assessed the risks for public health of the substances: glycidyl fatty acid esters (GE), 3-monochloropropanediol (3-MCPD), and 2-monochloropropanediol (2-MCPD) and their fatty acid esters. The substances form during food processing, in particular, when refining vegetable oils at high temperatures (approx. 200°C).

The highest levels of GE, as well as 3-MCPD and 2-MCPD (including esters) were found in palm oils and palm fats, followed by other oils and fats. For consumers aged three and above, margarines and ‘pastries and cakes’ were the main sources of exposure to all substances.

In May, the chair of the ESFA panel that investigated palm oil, said: “There is sufficient evidence that glycidol is genotoxic and carcinogenic, therefore the Contam panel did not set a safe level for GE.” The ESFA has not yet recommended stopping the use of palm oil.

In an academic study, published on the 7th of December, funded partially by UK charity Worldwide Cancer Research claimed that the link between palm oil and the rapid spread of cancer was detected on mice. These mice were fed a high fat diet and large amounts of palmitic acid (a large component of palm oil) which developed the most aggressive cancer spread. Of course, humans are not mice, and there is no actual proof (yet) for this also happening on humans.

In mice inoculated with human tumour cells, there appears to be a direct link between fat intake and an increase in metastatic potential through CD36. More studies are needed to unravel this intriguing relationship, above all because industrialised countries are registering an alarming increase in the consumption of saturated fats and sugar,” warns Professor Salvador Aznar Benitah (head of Worldwide Cancer Research). “Fat is necessary for the function of the body, but uncontrolled intake can have an effect on health, as already shown for some tumours such as colon cancer, and in metastasis, as we demonstrate here.

Using mice with human oral cancer, the researchers were next able to show that blocking CD36 completely prevented metastasis. In mice with cancer cells that had already metastasised, CD36 blocking antibodies led to the complete removal of metastases in 20% of the mice, whilst in the others it caused a dramatic reduction of 80-90% of metastases and reduced the size. Importantly, this was all achieved with no serious side effects.

So, this kind of news of course was booming in the social media.

Palm oil is the cheapest oil in the market, and Ferrero uses about 185,000 tons of the ingredient each year, according to the SF Gate. A switch away from palm oil could cost anywhere from $8 to $22 million more each year.

Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product, it would be a step backward.” Ferrero’s purchasing manager Vincenzo Tapella said.

As of January 11, the US Food and Drug Administration had not banned using palm oil in food.

Will you stop eating this delicious spread? 

Read more about the full study here

Meelis Paloson

Meelis Paloson

Founder at
I'm the Founder of Originally I'm from a tiny country called Estonia but I have been living in Barcelona, Spain since summer 2004.

I'm passionate about social media, new technologies, gadgets, business development, healthy cooking, fitness, music and travel. I like spending time walking around and getting inspiration.
Meelis Paloson