Nutella Lawsuit: What It Really Means

It seems like there has been a lot of food in the headlines here recently.  From mad cow disease in California to pizzas with a cheeseburger crust, the food industry has been showing itself (in more ways than one). One story that struck a nerve with me was this one from the Huffington Post about a $3 million class-action lawsuit settled against Ferrero, the maker of Nutella. The reason? A California mother claims that she was deceived by advertisements for the product, as well as the language on the label, to believe that Nutella was a healthy option to feed her child. To rectify this issue, Ferrero is paying out to consumers and will also have to change advertisements and other media messages (website, packaging, etc.) so they are no longer deceptive in this way.

While some may be shouting for joy for a victory over the industry, I think a more important issue is at hand. While I agree that companies should not be making false claims or taking advantage of consumers, the answer goes far beyond policing suggestions or implications made by advertisements. The real problem at hand is the fact that consumers are vulnerable to such ploys because they are unable to analyze corporation claims and nutrition information to decide for themselves whether or not a product is healthy and appropriate for the needs of their families.

It seems to me, in this case, one of two things happened. This mother either read the nutrition information and ingredients and  could not interpret it or, more likely, simply trusted the message she received from advertisers as true, rather than investigating further. This is perfect example of how much education is truly needed, as Nutella is not by any means one of the more confusing products on the market.  After all, it has 8 ingredients (much fewer than many processed foods) and the first ingredient is sugar. The fact that a consumer cannot come to the conclusion that such a product is not a health food shows that there is a serious disconnect.

Have you ever felt deceived by a food advertisement or marketing scheme? What about nutrition do you find confusing?

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