The cult of Nutella is a large, insanely devoted and extraordinarily loyal group. Imagine a chocoholic crossed with an AC Milan fan. Maybe journalists eat more of the stuff than most people (possible), because when the European Parliament voted last week for a proposal that would toughen the mandatory nutrition information on food labels, the Italian media went a little crazy. Not because the government was trying to do something about the growing obesity epidemic (the point of the proposal), but because of the proposal's possible impact on Nutella.

The day after the vote, newspapers ran stories claiming that the addictive chocolate-hazelnut spread could disappear from the country's food culture if the new rules were enacted. The fear is that the proposed rules, which would curtail advertising of food products with high enough amounts of fat, sugar and salt, would unfairly target Nutella, which is composed–according to its website–of sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey, soy lecithin and vanillin.

The proposed rules were immediately panned by Italy's Agriculture and Food Minister Giancarlo Galan. “Sometimes, the strict application of rules… reveals their stupidity,” Galan told reporters, according to the Reuters report. The strict application of rules can sometimes get in the way of World Cup matches too, but hey, that's another post. In a sidenote, Michele Ferrero, the principle owner of Ferrero, the company which makes Nutella, not terribly long ago overtook Silvio Berlusconi (owner, by the way, of AC Milan) to become the richest man in Italy, with a net worth of $9.5 billion.

To find Nutella (while you still can), check out the company's handy Nutella store locator.

LA Weekly