Nuts to Nutella Says Judge

By: Michael Seinberg

Thanks to an angry California mom, breakfast just got a little healthier and some lawyers picked up a quick $550,000 in fees. It seems that Athena Hohenberg proposed a class action lawsuit last year after discovering that despite advertisements to the contrary, Nutella, a well-known hazelnut and chocolate spread was not a healthy and nutritious food. Wow! Shock! Next thing you know she’ll denounce Captain Crunch.

It would seem that a 2 tablespoon serving contains, among other things, 190 calories, 11 grams of fat, 21 grams of sugar, and only 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein. Ms. Hohenberg made this shocking discovery by actually stopping and reading the label, which, amazingly, is on virtually every jar of Nutella sold in the US. Ferrero USA, Inc., of Somerset NJ, maker of the offending spread had no comment after being ordered to pay out $3.05 million as part of the settlement, $2.5 million of which will go to consumers that file a claim.

Any person not bright enough to read the label who bought the devil’s spread between August 1, 2008 and January 23, 2012 is entitled to $4 for each jar up to a maximum of $20 for five jars per household. God help the home that ate 5 jars! The company also agreed to change its marketing campaign, modify the label to show the fat and sugar on the front of the jar (for those too dumb to read the back), create new TV ads and change the company website. No word as to whether Ferrero execs will be forced to diet and wear a big red F (for fat) on their suits for one year.

You have to wonder why health conscious people would, for even one moment, think a chocolate spread was in any way healthy. But beyond the obvious, why would you sue the company when the nutritional information is clearly available, visible and even written in English? Finally, a jar costs anywhere from $3.28 to $12.00 (depending on size) so a $4 settlement is just enough to buy another jar, or maybe pay for Lipitor for a week.

The lawyers made out like bandits, and the public paid the court costs for a lawsuit that really didn’t do much good for anyone but the lawyers.

The hope is that next time Ms. Hohenberg goes shopping she brings her reading glasses and leaves her lawyer’s business card at home. Maybe she should just learn to blog.

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