Nutella removed from supermarket shelves due to cancer risks

Days after a purportedly innocuous palm oil spill in the Algarve, Jornal Económico reports that the much-loved chocolate spread Nutella is being removed from supermarket shelves because one of its ingredients – refined palm oil – “can cause cancer”.

The news will come as a shock to hundreds of volunteers who helped clean up the beaches of Ria Formosa last week after the estuary was blighted by a 14 km slick of what authorities simply called “palm oil”.

But worse, JE mentions other products, also containing refined palm oil, that remain on sale.

These include chocolate produced under the Cadbury’s, Clover and Ben and Jerry’s labels, says the news service, explaining that the issue dogging palm oil is that it has what the European food standards authority has warned is a “large potential” for causing cancer when refined at temperatures over 200ºC, at which point it produces the carcinogenic substance dubbed GE.

JE claims that children are particularly at risk, even if they only consume “moderate quantities” of refined palm oil.

Nonetheless Nutella’s manufacturers Ferrero are contesting the claims, saying their smooth choco-hazelnut spread could never be as good without the use of refined palm oil.

TVI24 has picked up the news, quoting a Ferrero source as saying its palm oil is safe because it is processed at “controlled temperatures”.

At no point however does the company confirm that these temperatures fall below 200ºC.

Indeed TVI concludes its report, saying the “Italian giant has realised thousands of tests which can (only) find traces of GE with difficulty”.

Ferrero adds that it would cost the company up to €20 million a year to develop an alternative to refined palm oil.

Italian supermarkets are already boycotting the spread, say reports, as others now look increasingly likely to follow.

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