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Nutella Class Action Settlement

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NutellaIf you didn’t think we lived in an overly litigious society, you will after reading this article. Apparently Nutella (Ferraro) had been advertising itself as a healthy spread (specifically, that it is a “healthy, balanced and nutritious product”) and that claim upset Laura Rude-Barbato, mother of three, and Athena Hohenberg, mother of one, enough that they sued Nutella. Enough people joined their lawsuit, it was given class action status, and Nutella settled for $3.05 million – of which you could get a payment if you purchased Nutella between January 1st, 2008 and February 3, 2012 (August 1, 2009 – January 23, 2012 if you lived in California).

I understand the need to keep companies honest in advertising but if you purchased Nutella thinking it wasn’t “candy,” you’re a fool. Look at the nutrition facts on the label – two tbsp as 200 calories and 11g of fat (plus 21g of sugar). Skippy SuperChunk Peanut butter has similar statistics – 190 calories, 19 grams of fat but only 3g of sugar in two tbsp. The real question is how do you define healthy?

As for the settlement, there were two lawsuits – one for plaintiffs in California and one for everyone outside of California. All claims can be made at nutellaclassactionsettlement.com, the difference is in the eligible dates and size of settlement fund.

  • Californian: The eligible dates are August 1, 2009 through January 23, 2012, settlement for $550,000.
  • Non-Californian: The eligible dates are January 1, 2008 through February 3, 2012, settlement for $2,500,000.

You will need to fill out a claim form by July 5th, 2012. and no proof of purchase is required. Once a judge grants final approval, a hearing is scheduled for July 9th, the funds will be disbursed after fees. You can receive up to $4 per jar that you claim, with a maximum of 5 jars. If there are more claims than the fund can pay out, it’ll be pro-rated.

(Photo: amandacbb)

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22 Responses to “Nutella Class Action Settlement”

  1. James says:

    It is a litigious society, but at the same time, companies can’t stretch the truth of the value of the product to the point where they say it is good for you. I also hate that certain candies say “fat free” on the label, like Twizzlers.

    • Martha says:

      I think “fat free” is accurate, it’s the “0 grams” of fat that gets tricky since they can be rounded down to “0″ even if there is fat in the product.

    • Jim says:

      It’s all about marketing… but the nutrition facts are on there as required by law. You can read it yourself.

  2. Tracy says:

    I don’t think it’s a problem of living in an overly litigious society as much as it is a problem that litigation is the only mechanism in place to keep companies in check. How appalling is it that Nutella – which as you point out is clearly not a health food – was able to promote itself as such for years? Shouldn’t we have some oversight in place of what companies are allowed to say, so that individuals don’t have to take it on themselves? I remember one commercial in which Nutella bragged that it “had less sugar then jelly, and less fat than peanut butter” Pretty misleading since I would guess the reverse was not true – but I can also imagine that some parents did think after hearing that that perhaps it wasn’t just candy after all.

    • Jim says:

      I think personal responsibility should be important here, the nutrition facts are on the label and parents can read it for themselves. I don’t think calling it healthy is something that is egregious. We’re going to have to start having legal definitions of “healthy” and “balanced” and “nutritious.” Is peanut butter healthy?

      • Texas Wahoo says:

        The FDA probably should have definitions for things like healthy, organic, etc. Until they decide to do so, it is up to the courts to decide whether such statements are deceptive on a case by case basis. I am not sure the plaintiffs in this case would have won, but Nutella obviously thought that the possibility of losing combined with the cost of litigating was not worth fighting it.

  3. Désirée says:

    Poor Nutella. After 50+ years and all around Europe
    And now someone wants to lay blame on someone else
    for their LACK. Lack of being able to say “no” to their
    children, Lack of being able to read a label & discern for
    themselves. Lack of anything (cause) better to do.

  4. freeby50 says:

    I agree with James & Tracey.

    Nutrition labels don’t excuse false advertisements.

    Individuals should of course take personal responsibility and read the nutrition label for themselves.

    The company should not be allowed to make ridiculous claims about their product in their advertisements. Thats outright false advertising. If companies want to lie or twist the truth in their marketing then they should be held accountable. What if we didn’t have lawsuits like this or laws that regulate advertising then various companies would be lying to us about their products all day long without any consequences.

    If the government won’t hold such companies accountable then lawsuits have to. Its the only recourse other than just letting a company lie all day long on TV.

  5. freeby50 says:

    The FDA and FTC do share responsibility for regulating health claims of foods…

    http://www.fda.gov/food/labelingnutrition/labelclaims/ucm111447.htm
    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/policystmt/ad-food.shtm

    For example you aren’t supposed to claim your sugar water is healthy cause its low in fat and you aren’t supposed to claim your product is health without having any research to back the claim.

    The FTC does go after companies for deceptive health claims. They have several press releases about actions related to false claims:
    http://www.ftc.gov/opa/index.shtml

    POM, Oreck and Sketchers are all mentioned in the past few days.

    I assume the FTC had the rights and jurisdiction to fine Nutella but there were probably bigger fish to fry and the class action bet them to it.

  6. Sarah in Alaska says:

    How is this different than the “toning” shoes?

  7. mlaphand says:

    “…might as well be spreading cake icing on bread.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmJXGOfL55g

  8. mark says:

    Whenever my wife would spread this over her bread I would imagine it was a melted snickers bar. Ugh, I’ve never thought this stuff was good for you, can’t believe they actually got away with this. I’m wondering what 3.5 mil is to this company?

  9. jackie says:

    Do those moms have nothing better to do than sue over an advertisement? Clearly Nutella isn’t remotely “healthy” but at some point the consumer has to take responsibility for their own decisions.

  10. gigi says:

    I think its a ridiculous lawsuit…I love Nutella!!!It’s better than eating an entenmanns cake,which every single ingredient is horrible!!!Pick and choose your battles…you know dam well it’s not the healthiest of snacks but by far not the worst!!

  11. Seth says:

    It really is ridiculous. Where do you draw the line between something being healthy and not? Yes, it has a lot of sugar, but it also is made primarily from hazelnuts, a good source of protein, antioxidants, etc. By that same logic, do we deem fruit preserves or juices as “unhealthy”? Sure, they (most) have a good bit of sugar in them, but is it wrong to say that they are still healthy in moderation?

    Our federal government just declared pizza as counting as providing one serving of vegetables because of the tomato sauce. Does that make it “healthy”?

    I do understand the argument about holding the companies responsible for their marketing claims, but where do you draw the line? Nothing is healthy in excess. One occasional serving of Nutella would certainly not be “unhealthy”, especially when eaten as part of a “balanced” diet.

    It’s so sad that our legal system makes it so easy for lazy people to steal from others.

  12. skylog says:

    this is just unreal.

  13. alfred says:

    Seth –
    I think your characterization of the ‘pizza as a vegetable’ is misleading. Based on articles from last November, what actually happened is that USDA was blocked from restricting the definition of such small quantities of tomato sauce as qualifying for subsidized lunch programs. That constitutes continuation of a pre-existing policy and it happened because legislators from both parties inserted such language at the behest of several large food industry lobbying organizations. See article below…

    “Food companies have spent more than $5.6 million so far lobbying against the proposed rules.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/us/school-lunch-proposals-set-off-a-dispute.html

    http://articles.latimes.com/print/2011/nov/28/health/la-he-school-lunch-nutrition-20111128

  14. Anonymous says:

    When I first heard of the lawsuit I thought there was a grievance that I may want to be a part of by buying Nutella also. Like somethingreally wrong with the product, not good for consumers. Then to find you two mothers sued, just because they could in good ‘ol America. This lawsuit is right up there with the suit against McDonald’s over the person to idiotic to know coffee was served hot. Even if a person couldn’t read to realize the high calorie count, all they would have to do is eat one teaspoon of Nutella and claim ‘candy bar’. I wouldn’t be part of this “blood money” lawsuit if I could prove I bought a skid full of Nutella. Just because people can do something and get away with it, like filing this lawsuit, doesn’t make it right. I am speaking morally not legally, for in America one can sue over any kind of crap and it doesn’t make it right. I was thinking with Memorial Day just yesterday, what response anyone would get from those who fought, bled, wounded and some who ultimately died; if we would ask them if they ever dreamed something like this is what they were fighting for in America? Fight for the freedom to be a pure jackass filing a lawsuit on a product like this just because one can in a country that is supposed to be the smartest. This is an example why America is “going to hell in a fruit basket”, and faster every day we allow our court systems to be clogged up with frivolous cases like this. What this says to the children of these mothers who are worried what their eating. What about the bull…. they are feeding their children? As a mother who is concerned over the best for their children should consider this! But I understand, they gained the “all all mighty dollar” for their children’s future. Maybe they can set some of that money aside for college so their children can learn the repercussions of debauchery and asininity in the American judicary system and why people like their parents (of all people) would take advantage of it. Shame on anyone who follows suit to be part of this “blood money” lawsuit, just because the can. And to think, a person can sell their moral compass for a mere $4.oo to $20.oo depending on how many jars you bought, knowing its candy like contents. JUST BECAUSE ONE CAN IN GOOD ‘OL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!! My first bite told me, “this is good and it’s a good replacement for a candy bar like sweet ager a meal, wanting something sweet.” Far from the same thought plus I can sue for my ignorance of not realizing its nutritional value. It saddens me to think of the price these mothers put on selling out their morals to their childrens future. It takes all kinds to keep America going!!!


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