Nutella, the nut spread kids seem to consume by the gallon – sorry, litre, in Australia – is under scrutiny by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with the goal of answering this question: is Nutella a dessert or a spread?
Created in 1946, Nutella was, according to Benedict Brook of news.com.au, created by Italian pastry chef Pietro Ferrero who combined chocolate with hazelnuts reportedly because, in post war Europe, a pure cocoa product would have been prohibitively expensive.
Today, enough jars of Nutella are produced annually to stretch 1.8 times around the world and Ferrero — who also make Kinder eggs — are the world’s fourth largest confectioner.
For those 70 years what it actually is has perplexed many a mind.
This matters because desserts are labelled differently to spreads in the US and that could affect sales.
According to U.S. authorities, Nutella is officially a ‘dessert topping’ alongside chocolate syrups and something called “marshmallow cream” which sounds utterly artificial but kind of great.
But for the last two years Ferrero has been desperately trying to persuade the FDA that should be reclassified as a spread in the same vein as honey and jam.
Ferrero says the FDA’s dessert theory is outdated and based on a survey of just 157 shoppers from 1991, reports US health and medicine website STAT.
In this survey, 27 per cent of people said they drizzled it on ice cream while 19 per cent dipped strawberries into the jar. Only eight per cent spread Nutella on bread, so a dessert toping it was.
But a 2012 survey by Ferrero, of almost 800 Americans, found that 60 per cent of people slathered it on their toast and sandwiches while only two per cent now dolloped it from a great height on their ice cream.
If it didn’t fit in the honey and jam category a whole new category called “nut cocoa-based spreads” should be created, Ferrero said — which would be a pretty lonely category consisting mostly of Nutella.
“Ferrero’s most recent advertising and promotion has advocated the consumption of a balanced breakfast with the inclusion of Nutella as a tasty, complementary spread to add on to nutrient-rich whole grain breads, fruit, and dairy products,” the company said in a letter to the FDA.
The spread stoush is because of the way sugar levels will soon have to be labelled on the jar’s nutrition table.
In the US, the average serving size of a dessert topping is labelled as two tablespoons. But a spread’s serving size is just one tablespoon.
Nothing was mentioned about the microorganisms that can make people barf, or labelling to enhance food-that-won’t-make-barf claims.