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Heads up about Nutella- European vs. US version

  • c
  • Chris VR Feb 26, 2006 08:46 AM

I recently noticed that I could pick up a glass jar of imported Nutella at a local specialty store, but it was $8.99, almost 3 times the price of the US-produced version in the plastic jar that's commonly available.

The difference between the two shows in the ingredients: the US product lists partially hydrogenated peanut oil (a source of trans fats) and the European version doesn't. So if that sort of thing matters to you, now you know.

I haven't done a head to head taste test but the European version sure is good. yummmm.

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  1. A ha! You are correct. Thanks for the head's up.

    10 Replies
    1. re: dkstar1

      I just checked our Nutella, and they list partially-hydrogenated peanut oil....but in nutrition facts they list Trans Fat 0g. Is that possible? I'm going to call their customer service # on Monday (it is closed today).

      FYI - Buon Italia in Chelsea Market sells 26.5 oz. (750g)for $6.50 all of the time. Not sure what size container you are talking about at Duane Reade.

      1. re: Duncanhound

        Yes it is possible to have partially-hydrogenated peanut oil and no trans fats.

        Everything is based on serving size and there is an established "buffer" for most foods. I do not know the specifics but if the serving has lets say less than 3 grams of trans fats acids the company can claim their product to be a 0 trans fat product.

        1. re: ChrisZ

          I think it's less than .5 grams of trans-fat per serving, not 3g.

          1. re: Clare

            Like I said I do not know. I was sighting an example not a statement of fact.

            5 - 1 gram sounds about right.

            1. re: Chris

              what do you do with this stuff???

              1. re: teddy

                There's lot you can do with it. We like to smear it on apples, pears or bananas.

                1. re: teddy

                  Makes a much better S'more

                  1. re: teddy

                    Fruit, sandwiches, body parts, warm it slightly and pipe it into profiteroles or other pastry.
                    I like it in sandwiches with strawberry preserves. Num. Toast the bread (wholegrain and wheaty) apply the preserves cold, with the nutella slightly warm.
                    Smush together, (don't trim crust, it's the best part)
                    Enjoy.

              2. re: ChrisZ

                I emailed Kraft Canada about a similar issue - trans fat free peanut butter that lists "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" in it's ingredients and this was their response:

                0 grams of trans fat as defined by Health Canada's new Nutrition Labelling regulations: Where a product contains less than 0.2 grams of trans fat per serving, contains 2.0 grams or less of trans fat and saturated fat combined, and derives 15% or less of energy from trans fat and saturated fat combined, Health Canada requires that the content be rounded down and listed in the package's Nutrition Facts box as "0" grams of trans fat. When a label shows 0 grams trans fat per serving and lists "partially hydrogenated" or "hydrogenated" vegetable oil (such as soybean or cottonseed, among others) in the ingredients, the product may contain trans fat-up to 0.144 grams per serving. Some non-hydrogenated oils and some meat and dairy products also contain trans fat.

                Personally trans is trans and we've switched to organic peanut butter... but that's a bit OT. I wonder if the consistency/spreadability of the European Nutella is different than the American version? Or, does anyone know whether European manufacturers are required to label for trans?

            2. re: dkstar1

              Our Feds are so much more lax than the Euros, probably because of food industry lobbying, so it's no surprise that we have the bad stuff (no matter how little) and they don't.

              As for what to do with it, here's a dream combo. Nutella on a thinpancake or crepe is just divine. Spread it thin, let it melt, fold over. Voila! And tonight is Shrove (Pancake) Tuesday. Perfect.

              -Sean

            3. After indulging in euro-nutella for a year, coming back to the states and buying the american stuff is just ick. Not ONLY does it have partially hydrogenated oil in it, because of the partially hydrogenated oil, it's really THICK! The european stuff is comparable to natural peanutbutter, where as the american kind resembles Jif or Skippy!! (surprise, surprise)

              1. Not to talk up the trader Joes thing, but they do make a really tasty chocolate hazelnut spread without the transfats that is less sweet and more natural tasting than nutella (at least to my taste buds). Texture is pretty thick.

                3 Replies
                1. re: newmark

                  I have to thank newmark for your rec on Trader Joe's cocoa-hazelnut spread.....it is delicious! I put it on my toast every morning. I'd rather eat that than the US Nutella with the partially hydrogenated oil.

                  1. re: honu

                    Here's a link from this weeks S.F. Chronicle Food Section...reviewing various Nutella like spreads, including T.J.'s

                    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi...

                  2. re: newmark

                    Had a sandwich with the TJ brand spread and the raw almond butter on multigrain and nut bread that was toasted. That was an unexpected zinger of a treat! The only problem now is the TJs around LA don't seem to carry it anymore... back to Nutella.

                  3. It's odd that the Chron doesn't seem to have noticed that there are different Nutellas? At that price point, it's hard to know which they tried.

                    But anyway, what evidence do we have that the catch-all "vegetable oil" (which probably means any of a long list of EU approved oils) can't include partially hydrogenated oils? It may not, but they're very common in mass-market European snack/junk foods, and the US is actually ahead of most of Europe in trans-fat labelling requirements. I do think they generally taste better, but if you read labels on imports, you will quickly see that Euro junk/snack foods are no healthier than ours.

                    As for the US-made stuff, they're either committing bald-faced fraud, which seems unlikely, or their food scientists know more than we do, b/c an individual serving has less than the minimum threshold of trans-fats to require labelling. I'm not sure how they've pulled this off, but I've yet to see a jar of the Italian import with any nutrition label at all..

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MikeG

                      I live in Europe and my nutella jar has the ingredients and nutritional info listed. I think you can be sure that there is no peanut oil in any European processed food, since this is not a crop that is really grown or consumed here--so the bi-products don't get unloaded into the food supply. Same goes for corn oil and corn syrup. I think that vegetable oil here most likely means sunflower.

                      1. re: MikeG

                        Partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil is always listed as such. "Vegetable oil" = not partially-hydrogenated.

                        Trans-fat Nutella can't be sold in some (any?) EU countries.

                      2. A similar product we like in my house is Peanut Butter & Co's chocolate peanut butter. No transfats. I buy it at Whole Foods and have seen it at other supermarkets in my area (NYC suburbs). It's peanut, not hazelnut, but it sure is good.

                        Actually, my 5 year old now won't eat any other peanut butter. With marshmallow fluff on toast, it's a smores fluffernutter.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: marcia2

                          the Peanut Butter & Co.'s Chocolate Peanut Butter actually tastes a LOT more like chocolate than peanut butter to me. there are small crunchy peanut bits, so it's kind of like Nutella with crunch... I know it's not hazelnut, but it's pretty close.

                          1. re: marcia2

                            At Peanut Butter and Co. (the restaurant) they make a black forest sandwich with the stuff: chocolate peanut butter, cherry jam, and shredded sweetened coconut.

                            1. re: marcia2

                              I'll take a peanut over a hazlenut everyday of the week. Must be my jingoist in me.

                            2. The 3 kilogram jar of Nutella we have is from Italy. It contains "olio vegetale" of unspecified type and 13% hazelnut content.

                              It sure tastes good on Ryvita crackers. But we have barely made a dent in it. I reckon we have another 2.9 kilos to go (5+ pounds!)...

                              The label also says "Ferrero" in small print which makes me wonder if they are also the manufacturer of those gold foil-wrapped Ferrero Rocher chocolate balls.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: vicki_vale

                                Yes. And also Tic Tac.

                              2. "Trans-fat Nutella can't be sold in some (any?) EU countries."

                                Very few have banned it (Holland, I think, but I don't recall any others, at least as of a year ago). The general EU labelling requirements were actually put in place after ours were.

                                As for trans-fats in the US product, however much partially-hydrogenated oil there is in it, it's small enough for them not to have to list any trans-fat content on the nutritional label, so we're not talking massive proportions whatever the case may be.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MikeG

                                  I'm looking at my European packaging and it says no trans fat acids, no hydrogenated oils/fat. Fat 31g, proteins 6.8, carbohydrates 56 per 100g (a little jar is 400g).

                                2. Right, but the US one also lists zero trans-fats too. Does the Spanish packaging use the 100gram standard for nutrition info? That at least is a little more reliable than the US "serving size" figure which lets mfrs get away with things they might not, if the figures were based on a larger quantity.

                                  In any event, even if there is a tiny quantity that slides in with arithmetic rounding, I wouldn't worry about it any more than I do with dairy and meat that "naturally" do contain some trans-fatty acids to begin with.

                                  Realistically speaking, it's not like one could argue that Nutella is "healthy" whether it contains trans-fats or not. It's junk food any way you spoon it, but in moderation I don't think the odd gram of unnecessary trans-fats here and there is going to do anything to anyone that isn't being done to them already...

                                  As usually happens when these sorts of things hit mainstream consciousness, I'm assuming the partial-hydrogenation issue is more complex than most of the "buzz" we hear from various sources. How many food fashions, trends and scares does one have to live through before realizing that media frenzies are just that...?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: MikeG

                                    The USDA allows manufacturers to round down 0.49 or less grams of trans fat per serving to zero. That's why U.S. Nutella can list zero grams even though the ingredients include partially-hydrogenated peanut oil.

                                    The natural trans fats in beef and dairy products are not an extreme health hazard like industrial trans fats.

                                    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutrition...

                                    1. re: MikeG

                                      Yes, I believe 100 grams is the standard here for nutritional info. I don't see any substantial difference in the nutritional labeling here--it seems to provide the same info it would in the US--and, in many cases, provides more info about where the actual foods come from (coop, region, country, DO, etc.).

                                      You're right that Nutella isn't exactly health food...unless you believe that chocolate is an essential vitamin (not to mention antidepressant), as we do in our household.

                                      We don't eat much in the way of junk food, but when we do, I'm always surprised at how different the ingredients are for the Euro versions of US processed foods. In general, they are manufactured without a lot of the additives and derivatives.

                                      1. re: butterfly

                                        The USDA, which writes and enforces US labeling and food safety laws, has a double role of protecting the public and promoting agribusiness.

                                    2. Oh, the chocolate's not the "problem" in Nutella, it's the sugar and the fat! I didn't mean it in the sense that it should be avoided, but it's not something you're eating in huge quantities anyway. And trans-fats aren't cyanide, after all - that's what I meant about food fads and whatnot -

                                      As for junk food in general, I've always thought it was a mixed bag. The flavors do tend to be better, but there are a lot of "preservative E304", "colorant C215" sorts of things on packaged European "snack" type stuff that I see here. My favorite German wafer cookies are (sadly) loaded with partially-hydrogenated fat and I'm sure at least a few preservatives, as are the similar Italian brands on the shelf next to them.

                                      There's always been "better" junk food here, too, you just had to read the labels. Ask me, I have one of those mothers who were reading labels 40 years ago and I can't tell you how many foods were barred from our home because of preservative or excessive sugar/fat "issues." LOL But there was decent stuff there too if you looked for it.

                                      And all that agribusiness crap applies in Europe, too, it's just not as biased toward business at the expense of consumers (as it, and everything else for that matter, is here.)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: MikeG

                                        Industrial trans fats aren't cyanide, but they're not exactly food, either.

                                        http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCa...

                                      2. But then that's not just a food-regulatory issue, but part and parcel of a radically different econo-political outlook over there. With few exceptions, our national govvernment has generally been of "by the money, for the money," very diffferent from most postwar (or in Spain's case, post-Franco) European governments.

                                        1. They paraded all kinds of studies and data out when they wanted us to switch to margarine from butter, too. Moderation. In all things. Even moderation.;)

                                          1. (GEEZE, I wish I could "edit" posts.)

                                            FWIW, I'm not suggesting trans-fats are good or not to be avoided. Given two substantially similar items, I'll buy the one without.

                                            But this discussion came up in a specific context, and I'm not going to get bent out of shape b/c partially hydrogenated veg oil is listed on a label, when there's too little trans-fatty acids to show up on the nutrition label anyway. Whatever's in there is, presumably, .49g or less per serving. IMHO, worrying about that is just plain silly. As far as health goes, there's a lot more to worry about between the fat and the sugar than there is in a miniscule amount of "industrial" trans-fats. That's what I meant by the cyanide comment.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: MikeG

                                              I understood your comment. It's just not true.

                                              The Nurses Health Study found that four grams of industrial trans fat a day--which could be eight servings of "zero" trans-fat foods--doubled the risk of heart attack.

                                              This stuff's not a heavily refined natural food like high fructose corn syrup or bleached white flour, which are unhealthy only to the extent that they encourage an unbalanced diet. It's a family of chemicals that do not exist in nature, that humans did not evolve to eat or avoid.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Isn't a serving size of Nutella 2 Tbsps? If that is the case 8 servings would be 16 tbsps or 1 cup. Anybody who is eating 1 cup of Nutella a day is not attempting to keep themselves healthy, transfats or not!

                                                1. re: MalinDC

                                                  The problem is trans fats show up in odd places and you have to make an effort to avoid them. It's a lot better now that it used to be but last year, I was trying to buy trans-fat free whole grain crackers and couldn't find any in a traditional grocery store. It's in microwave popcorn, most snack foods (cookies, crackers, chips, etc.), many fried foods, candy, chocolate coating, ice cream toppings,... Granted, it's mostly junk food but it's everywhere. As they're finding out more about it, they're thinking that no level is safe. So, if it can be avoided, like picking trans fat crackers vs. not, it makes sense to do so. Are there things that are more dangerous? Of course, but you could say that about smoking, too.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    Exactly. Since trans fats are used in so many things, a few tenths of a gram in each serving of "zero trans fat" foods could over the course of a day easily add up to four grams or more.

                                                    There's probably no ingredient on the FDA's Generally Regarded As Safe list that's as dangerous to health as industrial trans fats.

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      The labeling situation with Trans-fats in the US is a government concession to the food industry..from what I have read, serving sizes containing up to 2 GRAMS of trans fats can be labled as Zero. In short, the listing of trans fat grams on the label is worthless and was completely devalued by easily corruptable beauracrats. 2 grams of TF's in ANY serving is too much, especially for spread.

                                                      The simple fact is that you should not buy any product with the term "hydrogenated" in the ingredients, and this includes nutella. The only reason the ingredient exists is to lengthen shelf life and increase profits..at the health of their consumers expense.

                                                      I have tried to find an e-mail address for them to voice my complaint, but there is none on their website. I love the taste, but the product should be boycotted until this ingredient is removed.

                                                      1. re: dman72

                                                        I've switched to a great product made by Racconto called "Nocello." No trans fats!

                                                        From a previous post, Aldi supposedly also sells a trans fat free knock off of Nutella.

                                            2. both nestle and hershey's have removed transfats from their products marketed in europe while refusing to do the same in the u.s. they are starting to get a lot of flak from the public because of this. there was a large push to boycott their choc. for valentine's day last week

                                              1. If you go to store like BuonItalia in Chelsea Market, is it readily determinable if what you are buying (other than the nutritional info) is the domestic or imported? Does the label say "Product of ...."?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: markabauman

                                                  I went to my local Trader Joes and they discontinued the Cocoa-Hazelnut spread! I asked the assistant and they said because of poor sales against nutella they had to discontinue it. If I had known I would have stocked up. I did manage to find an Italian Nutella when I was in Hong Kong. Still, I miss the TJ version....

                                                2. just a little quick looking about the web and found this article. I like natural peanut butters my favorite being trader joes salted. But I love Jif. This article for me is semi- carte blanche for Jif.
                                                  http://www.peanut-institute.org/05-01...

                                                  1. The current ingredient list on a jar of Nutella purchased in a Florida grocery store:

                                                    sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (from milk), soy lecithin; an emulsifier, vanillan; an artificial flavor

                                                    says "0" trans fats.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: trix

                                                      I have the same delicious version..made in Canada.

                                                      1. re: trix

                                                        This similar to what we get in Spain:

                                                        Sugar, vegetable oil, hazelnuts (13%), cocoa (7.4%), powdered skim milk (6.6%), powdered whey, soy lecitin, and flavoring.

                                                        0 trans fats. 0 hydrogenated fats.

                                                        Best of all, it came in a cool Simpson's glass with Bart saying ¿Qué pasa, tío?

                                                      2. A lot of companies make different versions of their products for different markets. I don't know about the labeling, but I know that the Nutella I ate while studying in Italy tasted a lot better than the Nutella here....and it came in really cute reusable glasses. Coca Cola has different versions of their formula (I say formula instead of recipe, because that crap cannot be classified as food). The sugar content varies from country to country. Coca Cola in Mexico has the highest sugar content out of all the coke in the world. I've eaten other "European" products here in the US that do not taste the same. The "American" version of European products is usually made with inferior products...probably because we seem to love that here! Let's not deny the popularity of packaged shelf stable crap...they probably figure we are so used to eating hydrogenated oils and other ingredients we can't pronouce that substituting those for real ingredients won't matter to us.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: bklynatheart

                                                          hey my nutella is made in canada it has modified plam oil instead but its 1 of our heathest things in our house lol with less then .5 trans fats per serv. and the serv. size is 2 tablespoons.

                                                          1. re: insane

                                                            There are a lot of versions for sale. I've eaten ones from Belgium and Turkey. I am not sure I could really tell the difference between them -- not that I ever did a side-by-side comparison. One Turkish brand I bought was Ulker, which lists vegetable oil and 8% hazelnuts, and Sarelle, which contains hazelnut oil rather than peanut oil, and 10% hazelnuts.