Margaret Polaneczky, MD

Margaret Polaneczky, MD
New York City, New York, USA
December 17
I practice medicine, cook and wax prolific in NYC. You can also read me at, where I've been blogging since 2006.


Margaret Polaneczky, MD's Links
APRIL 28, 2012 11:42AM

Nutella Settles Lawsuit for $3 Million – Will You File For Your Piece of the Settlement?

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The Ferrero Group has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit that claims they are falsely advertising Nutella as a healthy breakfast food. (See their ad above – What do you think?)

The suit was brought by a handful of US consumers, but you can get in on the settlement to the tune of $5 per jar of Nutella that you may have purchased, up to a total of $20, no receipt needed.

The Nationwide Class provides for a settlement fund of $2,500,000 and the California Class provides for a settlement fund of $550,000 for a total of $3,050,000. Class Members can receive up to $4 per jar of Nutella that they purchased during the time periods listed above. Class Members who purchased multiple jars of Nutella during the time periods can submit a claim for up to five jars for a maximum award of $20 per household. If the value of the claims of the Nationwide Class exceeds $2,500,000, or the value of the claims of the California Class exceeds $550,000, then payments will be reduced proportionally.

I think the lawsuit was appropriate

I love Nutella. Who doesn’t?  But there’s no way that stuff should be touted as part of a wholesome breakfast. As a mom and a physician, that the ad truly pissed me off when I first saw it.  Nutella’s first ingredient listed on the label is sugar. And yet sugar is never mentioned in the ad – just hazelnuts, milk and cocoa. So yeah, I think that’s false advertising.

Some have suggested that the lawsuit is frivolous. A Nutella breakfast is no worse than a bowl of sweet cereal, something advertised to kids all the time, they say. Just read the label, others tell us, and anyway, how stupid can you be not to know that Nutella is basically spreadable candy in a jar?

To them, I’d argue that many American consumers, who may have trouble affording a trip to Disney World,  let alone to Europe, have until recently never heard of Nutella. For many of them, this ad was their introduction to the product. Imagine that if the first time you heard what a Hershey bar was, it was being advertised as part of a balanced wholesome breakfast. Would you think that was false advertising?

I do agree that all it takes is a glance at the label to know what you’re buying, and abdicating responsibility for your wallet and your health to advertisers is not smart. But highlighting to ad makers that smoke and mirrors won’t fly is the right thing to do. If this makes the Mad Men pause before writing their next line of copy, then I say $3 million is a small price to pay. Not to mention all the free advertising the settlement is netting Nutella. Hmmmm… I wonder if the whole thing isn’t just one giant marketing scheme?

This isn’t the first time Ferrero has been asked to stop pretending Nutella is healthy

They’ve been slapped on the wrists in Europe for the same thing. The UK actually banned Nutella’s breakfast ads there. But attempts by the EU to ban advertisting unhealthy foods is meeting opposition, in large part because that would hurt Nutella’s business.

Please. This stuff is like crack cocaine – you don’t need ads for it. It sells itself.

Do you know what pisses me off even more than that stupid Nutella ad?

I just found out that the Nutella sold in the US is not as good as the stuff they make and sell in Europe.

Now that’s something to sue about…

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