Nutella Pushes to Ditch the Dessert Label

Justin Sullivan/Getty
Justin Sullivan/Getty / Justin Sullivan/Getty

Nutella fanatics know there are numerous ways to consume the chocolatey, hazelnut treat. But the FDA applies a strict definition to the product: According to the U.S. government, Nutella is officially a dessert topping, and that categorization is reflected in the nutrition facts on its label. Now, NPR reports, Ferrero—the makers of Nutella—are petitioning the FDA to place it under the same label as honey, jam, and other sweet spreads. Doing so would reduce the serving size from two tablespoons to one and therefore cut the listed calories in half, making the product more attractive to health-conscious individuals.

The two-tablespoon suggested serving size assumes you’ll be eating it as part of a dessert: Either spread on top of cupcakes, dolloped on ice cream, or piped inside pastries. When the FDA surveyed consumers in the early 1990s, “a significant number” of respondents reported using the spread as an ice cream topping.

But times have changed: Between 2009 and 2014, Nutella sales tripled to $240 million in the U.S. Now the sweet product holds a trendy status few brands can lay claim to. And according to Ferrero, that chic reputation has helped the spread break out of the dessert mold. A 2012 consumer survey conducted by the company found that 60 percent of the women surveyed like to eat their Nutella on bread. At 14 percent, the second most popular use was as a sandwich filling, and 8 percent of responders said they like to spread their Nutella on crackers. Nutella was enjoyed with ice cream only 2 percent of the time.

The FDA is conducting a survey of their own. They will consider reclassifying Nutella and similar spreads as part of the group that contains "honey, jams, jellies, fruit butter, [and] molasses" or creating a separate category altogether for nut cocoa-based spreads based on consumer feedback. If you have strong feelings about how Nutella should or should not be eaten, or if you just want to share your preferences, you can send your comments to the FDA here.

[h/t NPR]