2 Countries Got Into a Fight Over ... Nutella
French minister accused spread of ravaging environment
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2015 7:41 AM CDT
A worker unloads palm fruits at a palm oil processing plant in Lebak regency, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
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(Newser) – France's environment minister caused an international brouhaha by picking on the wrong nutty spread. Segolene Royal singled out Nutella as the cause of environmental destruction, including climate change and "massive deforestation," and said people should stop eating it because it contains palm oil, the Guardian reports, prompting her Italian counterpart to tell her to "leave Italian products alone." Italian lawmakers similarly rushed to defend the hazelnut spread, calling Royal's remarks a "grave blunder," demanding an apology, and, in the case of the environment minister, vowing to have Nutella for dinner, the Telegraph reports.

But while the production of palm oil—which is found in a huge variety of processed foods, often labeled as "vegetable oil"—is indeed responsible for environmental destruction in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, environmental groups say Nutella maker Ferrero's sourcing of palm oil should be an example to others. The company, which gets all of its palm oil from plantations certified as sustainable, is "one of the more progressive consumer-facing companies," Greenpeace told Quartz in a statement. Royal eventually backtracked, offering "a thousand apologies" and agreeing that it's important to highlight sustainable production, the Guardian reports. (But France still won't let you name your child "Nutella.")