Nutella: Toxic or Not? Let's Find Out

March 2, 2022 • By Jacob Miller
The estimated reading time is 6 minutes
Nutella

Does anyone NOT like Nutella? The nutty, creamy, gooey, chocolatey pleasure that melts in your mouth is to die for. Nutella turns desserts into heavenly delights. So, when someone tells you that Nutella is awful for you, it breaks your heart.

Such are the accusations of various social media posts that claim Nutella is poison in a jar. Are these accusations true? Should we throw away this amazingly delicious cream?

Business Insider revealed in an article some of the rumors about Nutella containing toxic ingredients. Blog posts such as “Why you’ll want to think twice before feeding your kids Nutella” and “Say no to Nutella, it is poisoning you and your children” were shared thousands of times and people started to agree. (1)

Namely, an article published on 7 November 2014 claimed that vanillin, the artificial ingredient that Nutella contains, is in fact a neurotoxin that destroys and kills brain cells. Furthermore, Nutella contains monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is also known as E621, and is carefully hidden behind the artificial vanilla labeled on the Nutella jar. (2)

Why Is Nutella So Bad For You?

First, let’s look at its ingredients.

Ingredients and Nutrition facts:

According to the official US Nutella Website, the ingredients are as follows:

  • sugar;
  • palm oil;
  • hazelnuts;
  • cocoa;
  • skim milk;
  • reduced minerals whey (milk);
  • soy lecithin as an emulsifier;
  • Vanillin: an artificial flavor.

Nutrition facts in two-tablespoons (37 gram) Nutella:

  • 200 calories;
  • 11 grams of fat (3.5 of which saturated);
  • 21 grams of sugar.

Nutella claims their product contains “No Artificial Colors and No Artificial Preservatives”. (3)

Is Nutella Toxic? What’s The Bad Ingredient In Nutella?

The claims about Nutella’s possible toxicity are based on the fact that the product contains vanillin and an unstated MSG. Because, when people see the product has vanillin in it, they often think “Oh, it is vanilla.” But, vanillin is in fact the most toxic ingredient in Nutella. Why? Because the flavor and the scent of vanilla are made by chemicals. The real vanilla flavor is gained from many molecules extracted from a vanilla bean.

Vanillin is a “dangerous” chemical according to the accusatory articles which makes up 95% of the scent. Plus, this chemical is being produced from petroleum in a lab which is a cheaper procedure but can be considered harmful because it contains unlabeled MSG. Vanillin is not a vitamin, mineral, or any nutritient and doesn’t have any health benefits. In fact, it damages the body because if we break down MSG, we can find 78% glutamate, 12% sodium, and 10% water.

So, we get to the explanation of why we can’t stop consuming Nutella. Apparently, this ingredient is responsible for it.

Why Is Nutella So Addictive?

MSG has been proven to be a powerful excitotoxin, a substance used for stimulating the reward system of the brain, i.e it makes us think that Nutella tastes better than it actually does, it makes us feel happy when we consume it, and it makes us want to consume even more.

Moreover, there are many scientists and doctors who believe that excitotoxins are responsible for the development of many neurological issues and disorders such as migraines, abnormal neural developments, infections, seizures, certain endocrine issues, obesity, and also many neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, ALS, Huntington’s disease, olivopontocerebellar degeneration, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

Vanillin: Safe To Consume Or Not?

However, despite all the accusations from above, vanillin is still considered to be safe for food consumption, both in the USA and globally.

Namely, in a document that was published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD; called also a Screening Information Dataset or SIDS) it is stated that after a careful examination and review of the vanillin as a potentially risky and toxic ingredient, there was no evidence found that it is harmful for consumption.  Apparently, there is no need for fears and concerns that will endanger your life in any way.

Furthermore, the use of vanillin has been approved worldwide with FDA granting GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status. This agreement is based on the experience with the usage of vanillin in many products for many years without any report of side effects. (4)

Finally, Nutella’s parent company (when asked whether the vanillin in Nutella contains MSG that is not listed in the label) stated that the accusations are false i.e there is no MSG in a Nutella jar, nor any GMO-derived ingredients for that matter.

In conclusion…

The rumors about Nutella’s toxic ingredients are still there to stay. Social media is concerned about the use of vanillin, the ingredient which is not still proven to be toxic or harmful, or risks the consumer’s health, and also the use of MSG which is also not proven to be used in Nutella.

However, we still don’t want to miss the fact that Nutella is not so healthy either. Keep in mind that it consists of nuts, sugar, and fat. Besides the nuts, we are all aware that fat and sugar are bad for us. It really doesn’t take a smart person to know that even though Nutella is extremely delicious, it is not something that we should consume daily. The same goes for ice cream, chocolate, or other sweet pleasures.

Last, when the parent company confirmed that Nutella does not contain any genetically modified ingredients (GMO) or MSG, it can be said that Nutella is just as toxic as any other product that contains sugar and vanillin, and those products are many!

So, what was the scaremongering all about?

Apparently, the March against Monsanto group used Nutella as a tool to target and trigger a very wide and big mass of people to further their anti-GM stance. Moreover, because of social media, the story spread massively and people got concerned really fast.

In a way, those claims made a counterpoint to all the marketing strategies that Nutella used to make us believe that it is good for us. The positive thing from all of this is that we have gotten a wake-up call that Nutella is neither healthy nor nutritious.

There is no point in going into extremes. The advice here is that Nutella won’t kill you, it is not toxic for you, but you should consume it occasionally.

Jacob Miller

Jacob Miller is enthusiastic about a healthy diet and improving overall health by developing healthy eating habits and exercising. When he isn’t writing articles, he revels in reading about health, nutrition, fitness, psychology, and lifestyle.
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