(File pix) Jars of Nutella chocolate-hazelnut paste are displayed at a hypermarket in France, April 6, 2016. Reports on the Internet alleging popular chocolate spread Nutella, which is made with palm oil, containing cancerous elements is a distortion of facts, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said today. Reuters Photo

KUALA LUMPUR: Reports on the Internet alleging popular chocolate spread Nutella, which is made with palm oil, containing cancerous elements is a distortion of facts, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said today.

The glycidyl fatty acid esters (GE) and 3-monochloropropanediol (3-MCPD) chemicals are present in all vegetable oils, including olive oil are not proven to be cancerous, he pointed out.

Mah was speaking with reporters after officiating at ‘Palm Oil Economic Review and Outlook' seminar organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board. Also present were MPOB chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Hamzah and MPOB director-general Dr Ahmad Kushairi Din.

In being proactive, Mah said the government has allocated RM50 million to find out more about these alleged cancerous elements in palm oil.

Last week, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) linked palm oil consumption – a major Nutella ingredient – to being cancerous.

A report released earlier this year by the EFSA suggested palm oil is more carcinogenic than other vegetable oils. According to the report, palm oil produces GE and 3-MCPD when heated above 200 degrees Celsius. The EFSA panel suggested these chemical elements are genotoxic and carcinogenic.

Ferrero Group insisted its popular chocolate spread Nutella are safe to eat due to the quality of ingredients used and the processes employed in production, which are designed to limit the presence of "contaminants" to "minimum levels".

"The health and safety of consumers is an absolute and first priority for Ferrero and we confirm that Ferrero products are safe," Ferrero Group spokesperson reportedly said.

"EFSA has analysed the presence of contaminants in a large number of products and oils stating that the presence of contaminants depends on the oils and fats used as well as the processes they are subjected to.

“Ferrero carefully selects quality raw materials and applies specific industrial processes that limit their presence to minimum levels, fully in line with the parameters defined by the EFSA.

“Our quality control teams constantly monitor such factors and guarantee the food safety of our products to the consumer," Ferrero Group spokesperson reportedly said.

While GE acids and 3-MCPD are present in all vegetable oils and therefore in many processed foods, Mah expressed his disappointment that the western media attention had just focused on palm oil in Nutella spread.

This partly because Nutella is such an iconic brand in Europe. Globally, a jar of Nutella is sold every 2.5 seconds. It is one of Italy’s biggest exports, the pride of the nation.

Ferrero Group, the world’s third largest confectionery company operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Ferrero Group achieved a turnover of €9.5 billion for the 2014/15 financial year, having achieved 13 per cent sales growth. This is particularly impressive as the global confectionery industry had only experienced single-digit growth over the same period.

“On behalf of oil palm planters, I would like to express my appreciation to Ferrero Group, the world's third largest confectioner and maker of Nutella, for keeping to its recipe of using palm oil, Mah said.

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