Food Police: Nutella Forced to Pay $3.5 Million to People Who Confused it With Health Food

Published May 2, 2012

Surprise surprise: spreadable chocolate, while quite tasty, is not particularly good for your health. The “victims” in this case have filed suit in California, where the manufacturer of Nutella has been forced, thanks to fears of the food police, to settle for $3.5 Million to the trial lawyers. The Heritage Foundation’s Mike Brownfield writes:

This latest example of the U.S. legal system run wild comes to us from California where two mothers filed suit against Ferrero USA, Inc., the maker of Nutella — a spreadable, chocolate-flavored hazelnut product. ABC News reports that one of the plaintiffs — Athena Hohenberg of San Diego — sued the company because she was confused into thinking that Nutella is a health food, and she was “was shocked to learn” that Nutella “was the next best thing to a candy bar.”

The root of their claim is that the company is guilty of false advertising. The TV ad for Nutella highlights how the product is made from “simple, quality ingredients like hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of coco.” According to one of the plaintiffs, “I thought it was at least as nutritious as peanut butter if not more and that’s the impression I got from the advertisement. I thought it had health benefits and it clearly doesn’t.”

Now, the company is settling for $3.5 million — or anywhere from $4 to $20 per person in the class.

Here’s a question to consider for the future: Under President Obama’s health care law, restaurants are required to post nutrition information about the food they offer to customers – but will people still be able to sue based on the fact that they were too busy to read it, and based rather on their “impression” of the product?