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Nutella contains hazelnuts, cocoa powder, skim milk powder, vegetable oil, sugar, soy lecithin and vanillin

Yes these are the ingredients in Nutella but not in their correct order.  Nutella would like you to believe that their product is composed mainly of hazelnuts and cocoa (two healthy-sounding ingredients). So they re-arrange the true order to make a better impression. And leave out the percentage and the correct additive names.

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The true list of Nutella ingredients

I actually had to purchase a jar of the stuff to find out the truth about the Nutella ingredients. Once you’re looking at the back of the label, you quickly see – when forced by food law – what the product really is made from:

Sugar, vegetable oil, hazelnuts (13%), cocoa powder (7.4%), non-fat milk solids, emulsifier (soy lecithin), flavour (vanillin)

 Its list of ingredients is very revealing. On the label, it MUST show them in descending order by weight from the largest down to the smallest.

So now I know that the first (read main) ingredient is sugar (not hazelnuts), followed by “vegetable oil” (not cocoa), then hazelnuts, then cocoa solids, followed by non-fat milk solids, soy lecithin and vanilla flavour.

Conclusion No 1

Nutella is more sugar and fat than hazelnuts – its true content of hazelnuts is low at only 13 per cent. Don’t be fooled by the advertising.  Here’s what I’ve unearthed about the ingredients. And it really took a bit of detective work.

Sugar
Sugar is the first ingredient and thus the main by weight of all the Nutella ingredients. In fact Nutella is 55 per cent sugar! That puts Nutella on a par with chocolate.

Vegetable oil
The vegetable oil is palm oil, a semi-solid fat that’s needed to give Nutella its spreadable texture. At least this was  disclosed on the website (see below). The manufacturer says they were using a hydrogenated oil until a couple of years ago but switched to palm oil to cut back on the trans fat in 2006. Palm oil is free of trans fat but is still high in saturated fat so it’s not good for you. It’s a no-win oil choice that many manufacturers face.

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Cocoa
Cocoa solids (or powder) gives Nutella its chocolatey taste.

Emulsifier
Soy lecithin – a common emulsifier that keeps the sugar, oil, nuts and cocoa nicely blended and stops them separating out during the months on the shelves. Nothing sinister about it. It’s one of my safe additives (unless you’re allergic to soy)

Flavour (vanillin)
This is not vanilla or vanilla extract such as you use at home. Vanillin, which is most likely the synthetic form identical to the natural vanillin, but much less expensive is the largest flavour component of the vanilla bean but much less interesting.

What’s not present
At least there’s no artificial colours or preservatives, no corn syrup and no added salt.

Nutrition facts

To fill in the rest of the detail, here’s the part of Nutella nutrition panel from the website which did coincide with the label:

Per 100g

Energy 2175kJ

Protein 7.3g

Fat, total 30.3g

Fat, saturated 10.0g

Carbohydrate, total 54.7g

Sugars 54.4g

Sodium 33 mg

Serve size is 20g, which is one tablespoon  – about what you’d spread thinly on two slices of bread.