You might have seen Nutella advertisements touting the chocolate hazelnut spread as a healthy, delicious way to get some much-needed nutrients (photo below).
But a new image, titled "What Nutella is actually made of," shows a different story -- one depicting processed white sugar and a controversial possible carcinogen as the top ingredients.
The diagram shows deconstructed ingredients in a jar of Nutella, with nearly half the jar filled with sugar and the remainder of the jar half full of palm oil, with equal parts cocoa, hazelnuts and skim milk powder making up the rest of it.
Palm oil has gotten its share of controversy after reports from the European Food Safety Authority and U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggested the substance produces carcinogens when heated to temperatures above 393 degrees, as is the case in the Nutella-making process, reports WPIX. Although the oil is free of trans fats and rich in antioxidants, like vitamins A and E, it is also high in saturated fats that can lead to cholesterol problems.
Many humanitarian organizations encourage boycotting the oil, saying its production causes mass deforestation that kills off wildlife populations, reports CNN.
Ferrero SpA, the Italian company that makes Nutella, told ABC News on Jan. 12 that its products that contain palm oil are "safe" for consumption are not linked to health risks.
"When palm oil, produced and processed to minimalize the presence of these contaminants, is refined correctly, it contains a lower level of contaminants than other vegetable oils that have been treated at excessive temperatures," the company said in a statement to ABC News. "This case applies to the palm oil used by Ferrero, who for years has been able to significantly reduce the levels of contaminants in its palm oil compared to conventional palm oils available on the market, similar to the levels found in other vegetable oils that have been processed properly, in line with EFSA's parameters."
Low temperature processing, "careful harvesting" and intensive monitoring all help the company produce products do not pose health risks, the statement added.
Although the FDA is still researching the effects of palm oil in processed foods, there are no clear links between cancer and palm oil consumed in moderation, said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor.
"If you have a diverse diet, you're not going to be taking in too much of [palm oil]," Besser explained.