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Nutella Wins Lawsuit Against ‘Illegal’ Health and Environmental Claims

The hazelnut spread giant argued that it sources its palm oil sustainably.

by Nick Rose
20 June 2017, 10:00am

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Nutella just won a major court case against Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize.

The grocer sells its own line of "Choco" spread, and obviously if you're trying to compete with the undisputed king of sugar-packed, chocolatey spread, the front lines will be marketing.

In this case, the legal battle was being fought on two fronts. During a 2013 marketing campaign, Choco, which looks almost identical to Nutella, positioned itself as not only healthier option but as the more environmentally sound of the two because it contains no palm oils, unlike Nutella.

READ MORE: The Government Is Trying to Track Our Nutella Consumption

Ferrero, the company that owns Nutella, addressed both of the claims in their lawsuit, according to The Guardian. The Italian chocolate and confectionary manufacturer argued that it does indeed source a lot of palm oil, but that it does so sustainably and responsibly, something that Greenpeace has applauded.

On the health front, Choco, which is made with sunflower oil, cocoa butter and coconut oil, was packaged as palm-oil-free, suggesting that it was healthier and didn't have the "potential health concerns" of palm oil. But Ferrero also challenged that assertion, arguing that this claim was tenuous, as far as recent health research was concerned.

"The court sustained Ferrero's arguments that it is illegal to claim that a product without palm oil is de facto better for environment and has better nutritional qualities than one containing palm oil," a spokesman for Ferrero told the Guardian.

Despite losing in a lower court, the Brussels appeal court ultimately sided with Ferrero, declaring that Delhaize's marketing claims were "illegal." The Belgian grocer said it would not appeal the decision, which will impose a 25,000 euro fine for every time that Choco is advertised as being better for your health or the environment.

Ferrero is no stranger to lawsuits like this, though it has also been at the receiving end of criticism for being inaccurate about health claims. As to whether that will actually stop any of us from eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon? Unlikely.