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France's ecology minister, Ségolène Royal, has blamed Nutella, the popular chocolate and hazelnut spread, for damaging the environment.
In an interview on French television channel Canal+ on Monday, Royal condemned Nutella because it is made from palm oil, a vegetable product which has been criticized for its impact on the environment.
"We have to replant a lot of trees because there is massive deforestation that also leads to global warming. We should stop eating Nutella, for example, because it's made with palm oil," said Royal, who also ran for the French presidency in 2007.
"Oil palms have replaced trees, and therefore caused considerable damage to the environment," she added.
She suggested Nutella, which is made by Italian manufacturer Ferrero, should be made using different ingredients.
Ferrero defended itself in a press statement released on Tuesday.
"Ferrero sources approximately 170,000 metric tons of palm oil, out of a worldwide production of 60 million metric tons, meaning that Ferrero's impact on the palm oil supply chain represents less than 0.3 percent," the company said. "All Ferrero products sold everywhere in the world, are produced with palm fruit oil that is 100 percent certified as sustainable according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)."
The company has made efforts to produce palm oil sustainably. For instance, it launched a Palm Oil Charter in 2013 in order to address the causes of deforestation. The charter committed the company to sourcing palm oil responsibly, while protecting animals, the environment and the rights of workers.
Royal became the minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy for the French government in April 2014. She is the former partner of French president Francois Hollande, with whom she had four children.
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