California Mother Sues Nutella: OMG It's Not Health Food

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Fri, Feb 4, 2011 at 7:32 AM
click to enlarge A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood

Americans have historically been as lawsuit-happy as we've been gun-happy, which may or may not be related. Witness a recent case in which a California mother sued McDonald's over Happy Meals. Now another California mother is suing the makers of Nutella over alleged false advertising. In the suit Athena Hohenberg of San Diego claims that she was "shocked to learn that Nutella was in fact, not 'healthy, nutritious' food, but instead was the next best thing to a candy bar, and that Nutella contains dangerous level of saturated fat."

If you actually read the label on the back, you'll find the ingredients list as follows: sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (milk), lecithin as emulsifier (soy), vanillin: an artificial flavor. Whether or not you judge this to be better or worse than the Froot Loops and Egg McMuffin and supersized Coke you'd ordinarily feed your small child is, I guess, your call.

We foresee another lawsuit being filed as we speak against the Guinness company, which once had the charming slogan: "Guinness is good for you." Some of us still have the t-shirts. And yes, a pint of stout is actually considerably better for you than a full-on traditional English breakfast.

Hohenberg, the parent of a Nutella-loving (presumably) 4-year-old, is seeking money from the Ferrero Co., which makes Nutella. Ferrero traces its origins to 1946 Italy, where Nutella was invented as a cheap post-wartime snack, and is now a multinational company based in Luxembourg. A few years ago, Ferrero Co. owner Michele Ferrero became the richest man in Italy, overtaking Silvio Berlusconi, with a personal wealth of $11 billion. (Which some of us find hilarious.)

The San Diego mother would like to turn her suit into a class action lawsuit. If a class action suit is filed, Hohenberg asks that any monetary judgment against the company be divided among "all persons who purchased on or after January 2000 one or more Nutella products in the United States for their own or household use."

So let's see, that would be all the jars of Nutella some of us have bought in the last 11 years, a vast number. Here's a suggestion for the thousands of other litigious California mothers: Try a little responsible parenting. Try reading the labels and understanding what they mean. Try making your own snacks for your kids. If you normally feed them good food, a jar of Nutella now and then isn't going to kill anyone. And it's damn good on homemade buckwheat crepes.

Legal disclaimer: that last bit is just an unsolicited opinion, and the Weekly in no way endorses the use of Nutella in your kid's lunchbox.

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