Ferrero USA, Inc., maker of Nutella will pay out $3.5 million as part of a legal settlement. The makers of the hazelnut and chocolate spread will divide $2.5 million of the settlement among consumers who filed a claim. This settlement comes after a California mother sued the company for their erroneous health claims.
Athena Hohenberg, the mother who brought the claims, proposed a class-action suit against Ferrero after she fed Nutella to her 4-year-old believing it was healthy for her based off the information in the advertisements. The ads state that the chocolate spread is a part of a nutritious breakfast.
Hohenberg was surprised to learn that Nutella contains 21 grams of sugar, 200 calories, and 11 grams of fat (3.5 of which were saturated) in one serving.
Ferrero lost the suit and will pay up to $20 per household of those who file a claim stating they purchased a $4 jar of spread – fulfilling the payment up to five jars. In addition to the pay-out, Ferrero has agreed to change its marketing campaign and change the Nutella label to include the sugar and fat content on the front of the jar. New television ads will be created along with changes being made to the company website.
This is an interesting case, especially due to the fact that other products are on the shelf in every grocery store that are guilty of the same crime. Many drinks are given the name “juice,” yet, they contain very little real fruit and a lot of added sugar.
DietsInReview.com’s Registered Dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD, shared her thoughts on this issue. She pointed out that many breakfast cereals as well as granola bars give misleading health claims, as they contain a lot of sugar and very low amounts of whole grains. Some other foods that have a healthy name, but may be fooling us are yogurts, smoothies, muffins, crackers, and even baby foods.
Hartley advises consumers to be responsible for their own purchases. “My advice is to pay no attention to the front of package, be it color, photo or claims. Learn how to read a Nutrition Facts food label to decide for yourself if a food is healthy.”
There are standards to look for when choosing foods, according to Hartley. “Look to limit the following nutrients: saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium. And look to get enough of these nutrients: fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. Then, look for the percentage of Daily Values (DV) next to each nutrient. Go for a DV of 5% or less for the nutrients to limit, and 20% DV for the nutrients to increase.”
Like it or not, food is a business and the food companies are out to sell and profit. Don’t be swayed, do the research, and feed your family truly healthy food.
May 1st, 2012