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One of Nutella’s main ingredients may cause cancer. The internet isn’t handling it well.

Palm oil, the second ingredient in Nutella, has been linked to the aggressive spread of cancer, according to an academic study.
Palm oil, the second ingredient in Nutella, has been linked to the aggressive spread of cancer, according to an academic study. Flickr

Nutella, the sweetened hazelnut cocoa spread, has a global fanbase that is relentlessly passionate, intensely vocal and weirdly obsessed.

But an academic study came out in early December claiming to find a link between palm oil, one of Nutella’s main ingredients, and the aggressive spread of cancer in mice, per Science Daily. And as soon as you could say “chocolatey goodness,” many grocery store chains in Italy announced that they would stop selling the product. Ferrero, the maker of Nutella, is an Italian company.

Although the European Food Standards Authority announced in May that the edible form of palm oil could cause cancer, news of the ingredient’s potential health risk has just recently begun to make waves in the U.S. as Ferrero launches a publicity campaign to convince people that Nutella is safe, according to Reuters.

In the U.S., there are currently no FDA restrictions on the use of palm oil. Indeed, the FDA’s move in 2015 to limit artificial trans fats in food likely led to a boost in the use of palm oil, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

According to Nutella’s website, palm oil is the second ingredient in the spread and gives it “its creamy texture” as well as its “smoothness” and “special spreadability.”

Ferrero told Reuters dropping palm oil from the recipe would decrease the quality of Nutella.

“Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product, it would be a step backward,” Ferrero's purchasing manager Vincenzo Tapella.

Reuters also noted that palm oil is cheaper than any alternative vegetable oil.

Palm oil is used in hundreds of processed food products around the globe, according to the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, but Ferrero in particular has incentive to not stop using it: Nutella sales have soared in the past decade, surpassing $2 billion, according to Bloomberg.

And Nutella’s many loyal fans are not taking the news of the potential health risks lying down, taking to social media to express variations of the same basic sentiment: “Worth it.”

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