France has angered Italy over its chocolate hazelnut spread, as the French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal blamed Nutella for harming the environment. In an interview on Monday, Royal condemned Nutella because it is made from palm oil, which has been criticised for its impact on the environment.
However, later on Wednesday Royal apologised for telling people not to eat Nutella, because it caused deforestation and climate change. “A thousand apologies for the row over Nutella,” she wrote on her official Twitter account.
The apology came as Royal argued that oil palm plantations were causing “considerable damage to the environment. We have to replant a lot of trees because there is massive deforestation that also leads to global warming. We should stop eating Nutella, for example, because it’s made with palm oil,” she said.
The comments had angered the Italian chocolate group giant Ferrero and the company issued a statement saying it was aware of the possible harm to the environment and that the company was using palm oil in a responsible manner. The statement said the palm oil was sourced from environmentally-sustainable plantations, all of which are 100 percent certified.
Prior to Royal’s apology, Italian politicians and media broadened the attack. Italy’s Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti said in a tweet “Segolene Royal should leave Italian products alone. The menu tonight: bread and Nutella.”
The wife of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Agnese Renzi was even photographed going to a “Nutella concept bar” at an Expo fair in Milan with her daughter and ordering a Nutella-and-cream crepe.
Two and a half years ago, French senators tried to impose a 300 percent tax on palm oil, arguing it was dangerously fattening and its cultivation was bad for the environment. However, the measure was defeated.