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Senate approves 'Nutella' tax on palm oil

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Senate approves 'Nutella' tax on palm oil
Photo: Rainer Zenz
13:35 CET+01:00
Nutella and other similar spreads look set to become more expensive after a decision by the Senate this week.

Members of the upper house voted 272 to 133 in favour of quadrupling the tax on palm oil, used in various spreads, biscuits and pastries.

The change to the tax law is known as the “Nutella amendment” since palm oil is one of the chief ingredients of the hazelnut flavoured chocolate spread.

The tax is expected to generate €40 million a year in revenue for the government, Le Figaro reported.

A past estimate suggested the tax would add six cents per kilogram to the price of Nutella.

“This tax is aimed at the producers, not the consumers, and aims to reduce the amount of palm oil they use in their products,” Yves Daudigny, the senator behind the proposal, said earlier.

Palm oil is seen as a contributor to obesity in the French population because of its widespread use in a range of food products.

The proposal, the first of its kind, harmonizes taxes on oils – currently, olive oil is taxed at  twice the rate of palm oil.

Nutella has been the target of critics who charge that it is not a nutritious food, contrary to past claims made by its producer.

In California, Ferero, the manufacturer of Nutella, faced a class action lawsuit which was settled earlier this year after the company agreed to change its labelling and certain marketing statements.

The suit alleged that Ferero misled consumers by promoting nutritional and health benefits of Nutella that were not accurate.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine opposed the “Nutella amendment” because she said the government did not want to multiply the number of “restrictive” tax assessments, Le Figaro said.

The Senate also overrode Touraine’s wishes by approving a tax on aspartame, an artifical sweetener that has been subject to controversy about its safety since its initial approval for use in food products by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1974.

Touraine, who was against the tax, said findings on the harmfulness of Aspartame are “not convergent” and it is necessary “to follow them up”.

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