FILED IN: Health

Nutella settles in class-action lawsuit from angry parent

Manufacturer to pay $3.05 million to consumers who felt duped by Nutella’s health claims

Nutella: not a health-food option. Photo by Sean Ammerman.

Ever buy a jar of Nutella only to discover the chocolate-flavored spread wasn’t as healthy as you had hoped?

If so, you may be entitled to a portion of a $3.05 million class-action lawsuit that was decided in favor of consumers and against Nutella-maker Ferrero.

The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by Athena Hohenberg, an California mother who felt Nutella’s advertising campaign falsely marketed it as a health food. NPR reported last February that Hohenberg purchased the product based on its commercials, which touted the spread as “nutritious,” and fed it to her 4-year-old daughter. She was later shocked to learn that Nutella contains 21 grams of sugar, 11 grams of fat and 200 calories per serving.

“Nutella was in fact not a ‘healthy’ ‘nutritious’ food but instead was the next best thing to a candy bar,” Hohenberg said in her complaint.

As the NPR story reported, many critics snickered at the idea that a fatty, chocolate-flavored paste popular in many desserts could fool anyone into thinking it’s healthy.

However, the television ad in question does show a busy mother serving her children Nutella and claiming she feels “good that they’re ready to tackle the day” after eating the spread.

Ferrero has agreed to change its advertising campaign by modifying Nutella’s label, reworking marketing statements, creating new TV ads and altering Nutella’s website.

The settlement allows anyone in the U.S. who purchased Nutella between January 1, 2008 and February 3, 2012 (between August 1, 2009 and January 23, 2012 for California residents) to file a claim and receive $4 for a single purchase and up to $20 for buying five jars. Claims must be filed by July 5, 2012.

Is all this fuss much ado about nothing? Take a look at the ad and decide for yourself.