The French Senate approved the so-called Nutella amendment that would quadruple the tax on palm oil, a key ingredient in the chocolate spread, to discourage consumption of the oil, rich in saturated fat.

The amendment which would take the tax on palm oil from around 100 euros now to 400 euros was approved yesterday by a vote of 212 to 133 despite protests from major palm producing nations Malaysia and Ivory Coast.

Socialist deputy Yves Daudigny said “palm oil is the most rich in saturated fats and its harmful effect on health has been established.”

Malaysia, the world’s number two palm oil producer, has called the move against the oil unfounded and irresponsible, noting that the French get most of their saturated fats from eating meat and cheese.

No change in recipe: Ferrero

Ferrero, the maker of Nutella, has said it won’t change the recipe of the product as using palm oil means it doesn’t need to hydrogenate the oil, which causes trans fatty acids which are also notoriously unhealthy.

“Even if this tax is approved we won’t modify our recipe,” the head of Ferrero in France, Frederic Thil, was quoted as saying last week in the Le Parisien newspaper.

Industry experts cited by the newspaper estimated that the tax would add about 6 cents to the cost of a kg of Nutella, less than one per cent of its retail cost.

Palm oil is found in many other snacks such as cookies, cakes and chips.

Senators will have another chance to vote on the amendment and it will still need to be considered by the lower house, the National Assembly.

(This article was published on November 15, 2012)
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