• Fri, Apr 27 2012

$3-Million Lawsuit: Mom Shocked To Learn That Nutella Is Not, In Fact, A Healthy Breakfast Choice

nutella lawsuitA California mom has won a $3-million lawsuit against Nutella after suing them for – get this – feeling “deceived” by the brand’s advertising. Athena Hohenberg apparently had no idea that serving your children chocolate for breakfast might not be the healthiest choice.

In fact, she was shocked to learn it has “the nutritional properties of a candy bar, with very high levels of refined sugar and saturated fat.” I’m going to point out the obvious here, but did she not bother reading the jar? I mean, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a chocolate-hazelnut spread might be chock full of sugar and fat. Duh.

Look, I’m all for moms standing up for what they believe in. And I myself am sick of crappy products – especially those aimed at children – being marketed as healthy and nutritious. But this woman is an idiot. All she had to do was read the product’s nutritional info – plain and simple. It’s astounding to me that she sued and even more shocking that she actually won!

Ferrero, the makers of Nutella, decided to settle two class-action lawsuits – filed by consumers who said they felt deceived by the brand’s advertising – with a $3-million payout. That means that anyone who bought Nutella between August 2009 and January 2012 is entitled to $4 (pretty much a refund). A much bigger deal, however, is that Nutella plans to revise its labeling and ad campaigns as a result. For example, the Nutella website will no longer say the product contains “quality ingredients,” and it’ll remove its claims that Nutella on whole-wheat bread with orange juice and skim milk “is a good combination for a balanced breakfast.”

As ridiculous as I find this whole case, it serves as a reminder to parents to read the label before feeding your children anything. We should all know by now that no matter what claims a company website or cleverly-designed label might make, it’s the fine print (i.e., the actual ingredients) that tells the whole story.

(Photo: nutella.com)

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  • MJ

    I don’t think this lawsuit was ridiculous at all, nor do I think the woman who sued is an idiot. My mother (also not an idiot) called me and asked if Nutella was healthy after viewing these ads. False and misleading advertising is a huge problem. I work with many people who are not able to understand food labels. Everyone does not enter the grocery store armed with identical skills and someone has to stand up for the people being deceived.

    • Michelle

      Agreed, my MIL used nutella on rice crackers all the time thinking she was having a nutritious snack. She’s computer smart but knows nothing about nutrition so I don’t blame her for not understanding the labels. Nutella shouldn’t be advertized in a way that makes the product sound healthy.

  • Peppercorn

    I concur. Regardless of whether or not she read the ingredients, I think the main point here is that Nutella was advertising their product as something that it isn’t. Delicious, yes. Good for an occasional treat? sure! Healthy and good for breakfast? Heck no. I think it’s good that she called the company out on these false claims. It really doesn’t do anyone any good to call this woman an idiot.

  • AmyRenee

    Ferrero was making a false advertising claim, and deserved to be called out on it. Take a look at this comparison between Nutella and Chocolate Frosting: http://www.care2.com/causes/is-cheap-chocolate-frosting-healthier-than-nutella.html

    I hope someone takes on the chock-full-of-sugar yogurt my son’s school serves as a “healthy snack” next!

    • Mrs. Lynn

      So that eliminates all responsibility to READ THE LABEL while the jar is in your hand? I disagree. It’s YOUR job to know what your feeding yourself and your kids. Not Nutella’s or some yogurt company. How about sending your son to school with his own yogurt?

  • Katie

    I think anyone who is dumb enough to believe something just because its said on TV over, you know, common sense, is an idiot. Sorry, but thats just the way it is.

    “Hmm… a spreadable candy bar… well the TV says its good for me, and you know, every single thing on the TV is 100% truth all the time, so yes, lets eat all the nutella and dance around singing “I is good idea 4 breakfast”

    Stupid and ridiculous.

    • Peppercorn

      I reiterate… It really doesn’t do any good to resort to name calling. Yes, reading the label is a good thing. Yeah, paying attention to ingredients and nutrition content would have been a more responsible thing for this woman to do and would have save a lot of hassle. But it really does just come down to the fact that Ferrero was making false claims and needed to be called out on it. There’s really no need to be calling this poor woman “stupid”, “dumb”, or an “idiot”.

    • My Oubliette

      I agree that we shouldn’t be calling her names, but I wouldn’t call her “this poor woman” either. She didn’t need to sue – she could have simply fed her kid something healthier for breakfast once she discovered that Nutella isn’t healthy – but she decided to make a nice fat sum while she was at it. I have little to no sympathy for her.

  • Mrs. Lynn

    It is a ridiculous lawsuit. READ THE LABEL!

  • Claire Beart

    I find this funny more than anything.

    What a joke this woman is. How can you be that stupid?

  • Jennifer

    This does not surprise me in the least. My daughter loves Nutella (who doesn’t) and I can not tell you how many people have comment “at least it is good for her” As if sugar and palm oil are good for you. Strawberries are good for you, bananas are good for you, Nutella is not.

  • Jessie

    I was honestly a little shocked the first time I saw these commercials. I never believed it was ‘healthy’ by any means, but that doesn’t mean I think they should be able to say it is. Consumer responsibility it important, yes – but I also feel like there should be product accountability.

  • quinn

    While I love Nutella, but don’t feed it to my daughter, a part of me always justified eating it by thinking about the commercial’s portrayals of it being part of a balanced breakfast. I am certainly not naive enough to believe that it is good for you, but another part of me wanted to believe it wasn’t TOO bad for me. Anyways, maybe this woman isn’t stupid, maybe she’s actually a genius for finding a way to make so much money by recognizing a somewhat obvious problem in advertising. Frivolous lawsuit or not, she is much richer for her “stupidity”.

    • Jessica

      I completely agree with you. Evidently chocolate isn’t healthy but it’s bread chocolate – healthier so it would seem. The ads are misleading, it’s not stupidity on the woman’s part but being opportunistic really – good for her.

  • Eileen

    Nutella has deceiving advertising and yes, it is surprising that anyone won a lawsuit for that much money when it seems she could have easily read the label. But all those points could have been made without stooping to name calling.

  • Belle

    In Germany, even Nutella’s label was misleading, so hold your horses about just reading the label:

    http://evilcyber.com/nutrition/food-industry-bad-rap/

    That company is doing all it can to deceive people until they are caught! They fully got what they deserve!

  • Bob

    Nutella has been around for years, I used to eat it for breakfast when I was a kid (born in 1962). When you eat it and go OUTSIDE and play or are physical it should not be an issue, unless you are going to be genetically tagged to be overweight, unhealthy, etc. But if that is not the case, when your kids eat Nutella and then go and plop themselves down in front of the TV, computer, video game or do nothing at all except lounge around the house then I am sure that it would be unhealthy. I do not know what her children were doing after eating Nutella but there still needs to be some parental responsibility here also. Just my two cents.

  • Daneen Covino-Rogers

    I can’t imagine a tablespoon of nutella on some whole wheat bread is gonna kill anybody, but seriously claiming it’s a healthy breakfast is a bit of a stretch. That’s not a healthy breakfast, that’s a snack when you’re craving some chocolate!

  • My Oubliette

    Sh**, I sometimes eat Nutella sandwiches for breakfast in my efforts to gain weight! Not the healthiest way to do it, I know, but I’m sick of being forever skinny.

    [ETA] I go to yoga classes 2-4 times a week too, so I’m not a complete skinny couch potato eating junk food ;)