After French ecology minister Ségolène Royal told people to stop eating Nutella, she's tasting the sweet rage of Nutella lovers.
“We should stop eating Nutella, for example, because it’s made with palm oil," Royal said in a Monday interview on the French show Le Petit Journal, noting that palm oil contributes to deforestation. "Replacing trees with oil palms has caused considerable damage."
Royal made the comments while explaining the importance of replanting trees to combat global warming. She suggested that Nutella, which is made by the Italian company Ferrero and adored around the world, should be made with other ingredients. Italian politicians sprang to the sweet defense of their beloved chocolaty spread.
Politician Michele Anzalda blasted France on Tuesday for its “serious and gross” slight against “Italian excellence," The Guardian reported.
The Guardian also noted that Italy's environment minister, Luca Galletti, hit back against Royal, saying “Ségolène Royal is worrying. Leave Italian products alone. For dinner tonight … it’s bread with Nutella.”
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's wife and daughter spread the love and engaged in some chocolate diplomacy at the Milan Expo on Wednesday, where they paid a visit to the Nutella stand, according to Politico Europe.
Enveloped by chocolate loyalty, Royal's resistance melted and she begged a "thousand apologies for the Nutella polemic" in a tweet on Wednesday.
Royal is right that farmers destroy rainforests to plant palm oil plantations. In a 2007 report, the U.N. identified palm oil plantations as "the primary cause of permanent rainforest loss," in Malaysia, which is where Ferrero reportedly gets the majority of its palm oil.
However, Ferrero claims its palm oil is responsibly sourced. The morning after Royal's remarks, the company released a statement claiming that the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a nonprofit palm oil industry group, has certified that Ferrero plants only use oil from sustainable plantations.
Some consumer groups have blasted the RSPO for "greenwashing," or falsely portraying themselves as eco-friendly.
France already has a contentious relationship with Nutella. In what became known as the "Nutella amendment," the government tried and failed in 2012 to quadruple taxes on palm oil.
French parents are also banned from naming their children "Nutella."