Nutella Is Having a Bit of an Identity Crisis

The FDA wants to know if you eat it for breakfast or dessert.

nutella-jars
Photo by Aaron Dyer

Whether you spread Nutella on your toast for breakfast or drizzle it on your ice cream as a late-night treat is entirely up to you—well, until now. On Tuesday, Nov. 2, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a request for Nutella consumers to submit their consumption habits of the spread, following a petition from Ferrero (the maker of Nutella) that their product be re-classified as a breakfast item. The responses, which will be collected until Jan. 3, 2017, will determine whether the fat and calories on the nutrition label will be cut in half.

Currently, Nutella falls into the “Other Dessert Toppings” category under “Dessert Toppings and Fillings,” as determined by a consumer survey conducted by Ferrero in 1991. The results showed that 27 percent of the grocery shoppers surveyed preferred Nutella with ice cream, while only 8 percent enjoyed it with bread. As such, the spread’s serving size was set at 2 tablespoons (as is the standard with dessert toppings).

Ferrero, however, believes their spread should fall within the “Honey, Jams, Jellies, Fruit Butter, and Molasses” category, or for there to be an entirely new category created for nut cocoa based spreads. In either case, the serving size would be changed to 1 tablespoon. The company petitioned the FDA in 2014 to make the change, citing a 2012 consumer use survey that found that 60 percent of the 722 moms surveyed put Nutella on bread, 14 percent used in on sandwiches, 8 percent spread it on crackers, and 5 percent enjoyed it with fruit. Only 2 percent served it with ice cream.

“Since its launch in the U.S. market in the 1980s, Nutella has gained immediate successes and a loyal following carrying it into the present day where it is used by its growing consumer base as a spread on bread, bagels, English muffins and other baked goods and as a substitute for jams and jellies,” Ferrero wrote in the petition. “Recent market data show that breakfast accounts for almost half of Nutella consumption and is the most developed meal occasion.”

Why does the classification matter? Ferrero says it's concerned that consumers are spreading a full 2 tablespoons (which contains 11 grams of fat, 22 grams of carbohydrates, and 200 calories) on their breakfast foods, as opposed to their more appropriate suggested serving size of 1 tablespoon. In fact, 1 tablespoon (or a close equivalent) is the serving size in Australia, Brazil, Italy, France, Germany, and UK.

Whatever the decision, we'll still be enjoying Nutella all day, from our breakfast smoothie to our mini s'mores pies.