Nutella. The full (correct) list of ingredients

on Tuesday, 12 April 2011. Posted in Additives & labels
Tagged: children, chocolate, fat, food labels, junk food, kids, low GI, nutrition, snacks, sugar, trans fats

Nutella. The full (correct) list of ingredients

Have you ever tried to find the exact list of ingredients for Nutella online? The identical one that appears on its label - in descending order from the first (largest ingredient by weight) to the last ingredient, as required by food law? Well, you won’t find it! Here’s the hoop-la I went through to discover exactly what the ingredients in Nutella are and why Nutella is not good for your kids.

The spin

You'd think that the official website would give the full listing of Nutella ingredients, as well as the nutrition figures, in exactly the same way most other food manufacturers do these days. For example, take a look at the comprehensive Kellogg or Nestle sites where they detail everything. You may not fancy all their products but they do provide detailed info on each and every product including all ingredients, nutrition panel per 100g or per serve, and possible allergens.

Not so Nutella. Here's all they tell you about what's in their iconic product:

Nutella contains hazelnuts, cocoa powder, skim milk powder, vegetable oil, sugar, soy lecithin and vanillin

nutella_website_ingredsYes these are the ingredients in Nutella but not in their correct order.  Nutella would like you to believe that their product is composed mainly of hazelnuts and cocoa (two healthy-sounding ingredients). So they re-arrange the true order to make a better impression. And leave out the percentage and the correct additive names.


The true list of Nutella

I actually had to purchase a jar of the stuff to find out the truth about the Nutella ingredients. Once you're looking at the back of the label, you quickly see - when forced by food law - what the product really is made from:

Sugar, vegetable oil, hazelnuts (13%), cocoa powder (7.4%), non-fat milk solids, emulsifier (soy lecithin), flavour (vanillin)

 nutella_jar_ingredients

 Its list of ingredients is very revealing. On the label, it MUST show them in descending order by weight from the largest down to the smallest.

So now I know that the first (read main) ingredient is sugar (not hazelnuts), followed by “vegetable oil” (not cocoa), then hazelnuts, then cocoa solids, followed by non-fat milk solids, soy lecithin and vanilla flavour.

 

Conclusion No 1

Nutella is more sugar and fat than hazelnuts - its true content of hazelnuts is low at only 13 per cent. Don’t be fooled by the advertising.  Here’s what I’ve unearthed about the ingredients. And it really took a bit of detective work.

Sugar
Sugar is the first ingredient and thus the main by weight of all the Nutella ingredients. In fact Nutella is 55 per cent sugar! That puts Nutella on a par with chocolate.

Vegetable oil
The vegetable oil is palm oil, a semi-solid fat that’s needed to give Nutella its spreadable texture. At least this was  disclosed on the website (see below). The manufacturer says they were using a hydrogenated oil until a couple of years ago but switched to palm oil to cut back on the trans fat in 2006. Palm oil is free of trans fat but is still high in saturated fat so it’s not good for you. It’s a no-win oil choice that many manufacturers face.

nutella_website_trans_fat

Cocoa
Cocoa solids (or powder) gives Nutella its chocolatey taste.

Emulsifier
Soy lecithin – a common emulsifier that keeps the sugar, oil, nuts and cocoa nicely blended and stops them separating out during the months on the shelves. Nothing sinister about it. It’s one of my safe additives (unless you’re allergic to soy)

Flavour (vanillin)
This is not vanilla or vanilla extract such as you use at home. Vanillin, which is most likely the synthetic form identical to the natural vanillin, but much less expensive is the largest flavour component of the vanilla bean but much less interesting.

Read what Wikipedia says about vanillin here

What’s not present
At least there’s no artificial colours or preservatives, no corn syrup and no added salt.

 

Nutrition facts nutella_website_nip
To fill in the rest of the detail, here’s the part of Nutella nutrition panel from the website which did coincide with the label:

Per 100g

Energy 2175kJ

Protein 7.3g

Fat, total 30.3g

Fat, saturated 10.0g

Carbohydrate, total 54.7g

Sugars 54.4g

Sodium 33 mg

Serve size is 20g which is one tablespoon  – what you’d spread thinly on two slices of bread.

 

Conclusion No 2:

Think of Nutella as chocolate in spreadable form. With 30 per cent fat and almost 55 per cent sugar, Nutella almost mirrors chocolate in its composition. In fact, Nutella is more akin to milk chocolate with hazelnuts for fat, sugar and kilojoules, they're so close.  See my comparison of the two weight for weight: Nutella side by side with Cadbury Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts. nutella jar

Nutella_Cadbuy_Haelnut_Chocolate_1

  Nutella

Hazelnut

chocolate

Energy 2175kJ 2320kJ
Fat, total 30.3g 37.0g
Fat, saturated 10.0g 14.6g
Carb, total 54.7g 45.5g
Sugars 54.7g 44.4g
% hazelnuts 13% 23%



 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you notice that the chocolate block has 19% LESS sugar than Nutella and 23% hazelnuts compared to Nutella at only 13%? Less sugar, more nuts!

 

Conclusion No 3:

Nutella provides very little in the way of good nutrition. Not much protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals – the nutrients we are lacking. We don’t need more sugar and fat.

Any good points? Yes. Nutella is low in sodium as are many sweet foods.  And it's a concentrated food that can increase kids' kilojoule intake easily if they're the chronically-underweight type and already eat a well-balanced diet.

 

4 most-asked questions on Nutella

Q. Is Nutella healthier than peanut butter?

No. Nutella might be sold in the peanut butter aisle, but it isn't a nutritional swap. Peanut butter has more protein, little sugar, healthy fat and vitamins. It’s a decent protein for vegetarians. Most are 85 per cent peanuts (with some oil and sugar) but you can buy 100 per cent peanut types.

Q. Is Nutella healthier than jam?

Not really. Nutella has 54 per cent sugar, jam and honey have around 60 to 70 per cent. But Nutella slaps on 30 per cent fat, while they have none. The nearest equivalent to Nutella on toast is peanut butter topped with honey on toast. Then it’s the same for sugar and fat.

Q. Is the suggested kids breakfast of fruit, Nutella on two slices of toast and low-fat milk a decent breakfast for kids?

Nope. You know it's not the healthiest breakfast to send your kids off the school with. It never has been and never will be. It’s just Nutella on toast “enhanced” to look better by the fruit and milk and white high-fibre bread.

Best bet:  If you are going to give the kids the occasional piece of toast with Nutella, don't use butter or margarine and spread it on wholegrain bread rather than low-fibre white bread.

nutella_website_breakfast_comparison

Q.  Is Nutella really low GI?

Yes. But so are things like sausages, corn chips and chocolate cake – usually thanks to their fat content which slows down the rate of digestion and absorption in your system (see the GI Website for more info). However, just because something has a low GI doesn’t necessarily make it a healthy choice. Would you give your kids corn chips and chocolate cake for breakfast?

Simply slapping on a “low GI” claim doesn’t make something healthier overall. If you believed the ads, you’d think that chocolatey-hazelnut spread was the health food of a nation and the perfect breakfast toast topper. It ain’t!

The bottom line

Why try to make out something is healthy when it’s not?  And clearly not, when you look at the true list of Nutella ingredients. Just accept Nutella for the chocolatey treat it is! Have it on toast, croissant or crepes. It’s a good case of clever marketing that highlights the few positives — and says nothing about the bad things. 


Nutella in the news

UK consumer watchdog Which? has hit out at an Advertising Standards Authority adjudication that rejected 31 complaints about a television advert for Nutella hazlenut spread. Which? complained about the advert on the basis that, firstly, it was misleading because it did not make clear that Nutella also contained a high proportion of sugar (55%) and fat. Secondly, the consumer watchdog said the advert was was likely to encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle, especially in children. Read more.

 


 

Comments (17)

  • Angela Irvine

    Angela Irvine

    09 June 2013 at 19:42 |
    Thank you! I will be checking out your site next time I am in doubt about clever marketed products!
  • Lana

    Lana

    27 June 2013 at 13:55 |
    I heard from someone who worked in the Nutella factory that all it is, is ground up ferrero rocher chocolates!
  • Lisa Willard

    Lisa Willard

    30 June 2013 at 23:46 |
    Where does the palm oil come from? If its not from a sustainable source then its use is causing deforestation in Indonesia, Malaysia & possibly West Africa. Its use is taking away the habits of orangutans & other vulnerable species. Say No To Palm Oil!
  • Dan

    Dan

    13 August 2013 at 18:24 |
    Very interesting account of nuttella. But what is your problem with saturated fats? There is nothing unhealthy about saturated fat. It's trans and hydrogenated fats that are the killers. Whilst palm oil isn't the best choice, Sat fats from correct sources like coconut oil have very high omega 3 content and are needed for memory function, nerve induction, cell repair and construction (the cholesterol content) hormone production (testosterone in males, estrogen and progesterone in females) it is vital for vitamin d absorption, for production of bile acids (again, cholesterol) and as you mentioned fat helps slow gastric emptying which in turn increases satiety and reduces snacking.
  • DJ

    DJ

    18 August 2013 at 06:36 |
    *Sigh*

    So much good in this... and then the same old demonization of saturated fat. Haven't we yet learned that naturally saturated fat is NOT bad for you? Coconut and palm oil are actually very good for us... as long as they're organic, cold-pressed (which is unlikely in a processed food, I agree).
  • me

    me

    12 January 2014 at 13:38 |
    Um, seriously? ?? This is laughable! You dedicate an entire article to the 'expose' of the fact that Nutella has a ton of sugar in it???!!! If youre too lazy to turn the container 1/4 of a turn of your wrist to read the damn lable to read the ingredients, then ok...whatever. but seriously, ONE TASTE of nutella and you know its nothing but a sh!# ton of sugar haha I find this hilarious! I, for one, love Nutella as an occasional treat... but to waste your breath revealing the extremely obvious....you need a new day job!
  • Catherine Saxelby

    Catherine Saxelby

    12 January 2014 at 19:18 |
    Dear Me. Thank you for comment. The point of my post is that I DIDN'T have a jar of the stuff at hand to read the Ingredient List. I don't eat it. And I found that I couldn't find this or the Nutrition Panel on the manufacturer's site which is where I'd expect it. Glad you found it so hilarious. Regards Catherine
    • Brittany

      Brittany

      19 February 2014 at 04:15 |
      "Me" is rude. Obviously the point of putting this online and explaining it in detail is to help other people make healthy decisions. When you Google "nutella ingredients" this is the second link which is so helpful.

      I don't base my health standards on marketing because it is just SO sneaky but some may not realize just how flipping slimy food marketing is. It's marketed as an alternative to peanut butter with a hint of cocoa. No mention that it's 55% sugar. It's marketed as a breakfast staple for kids, NOT as an occasional dessert treat. Yes, it's a consumer's responsibility to look past the marketing and understand the nutritional label...which is what articles like these help people do.

      Personally I'm not worried about the saturated fat (I eat high fat/low carb which works much better than the alternative for me) but the empty carb calories from sugar combined with that saturated fat is a recipe for disaster. This combined with the fact that Nutella's marketing is so underhanded, I personally will never eat Nutella and definitely not feed it to my kids.
      • Brittany

        Brittany

        19 February 2014 at 04:16 |
        Oh and it sounds like at the time this article was written, the actual ingredient list from Nutella wasn't even online...which means this is definitely a useful article!!
      • Catherine Saxelby

        Catherine Saxelby

        24 February 2014 at 12:07 |
        Thanks for clearing this up Brittany. Didn't realise it comes up as the second link! Yes it IS marketed as more of a peanut butter type spread - and you find it in the supermarket aisle with the other spreads! Agree that there's empty calories in Nutella and it's another example of 'junk food' dressed up to trick the unwary. It's another processed over-refined product with the wrong kind of sugar and fat. Glad to hear you won't eat it. Thanks Catherine
  • Helena Janice Ritz-Unzueta

    Helena Janice Ritz-Unzueta

    17 January 2014 at 01:27 |
    At least it doesn't have CORN - anything in it! No corn starch, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup or any other product derived from corn. It's good. And it tastes great.

    Everything in moderation. "You can have your cake; just don't eat the whole thing." Julia Child.
    • Brittany

      Brittany

      19 February 2014 at 04:18 |
      Just ignore that it's marketed as a "part of a complete breakfast" staple, then.
      • Catherine Saxelby

        Catherine Saxelby

        24 February 2014 at 12:00 |
        Hi Brittany. Yep good point - it's NOT and never will be a healthy part of a complete breakfast. Catherine
  • Grace Edmonds

    Grace Edmonds

    15 February 2014 at 08:22 |
    Soybeans are almost always from a genetically modified plant. GMO is not an acceptable ingredient and is not identified as GMO modified so consumers can be aware of the truth about the ingredients and make an informed choice when they buy a product. Some people would buy it anyway but the whole truth should be on the label for those who avoid GMO products. I consider GMO to be a product not a food.
  • Jenn Van Massenhoven

    Jenn Van Massenhoven

    02 March 2014 at 11:37 |
    (re: soy lecithin) You said, "It’s one of my safe additives (unless you’re allergic to soy)"

    I am allergic to soy, at the very least hugely intolerant, and I have no problem with soy lecithin. Which brings me to a question: What's the difference between soy and soy lecithin?

    Otherwise, yup, Nutella sucks nutritionally but damn it tastes good!
    • Catherine Saxelby

      Catherine Saxelby

      02 March 2014 at 20:34 |
      Hi Jenn. Thanks for your comment. I suspect you can manage soy lecithin as it's extracted FROM soy beans. So you're not getting the full hit with all the protein of soy which is the component usually responsible for allergies. Soy means the whole beans and things made from them such as soy flour, soy grits, soy protein concentrate (used to make many soy-based drinks) and canned soy beans. Lecithin is an emulsifier usually from soy and must be declared on pack. It's present only in small quantities say the same as other additives and salt so much less exposure for you to the allergen. Hope that makes sense. Regards Catherine

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