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French Environment Minister Ségolène Royal has urged the public to stop eating the well known chocolate hazelnut spread, saying that it contributes to deforestation and damages 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," Royal said in an interview late 15 July on the French television Canal+.

"Oil palms have replaced trees, and therefore caused considerable damage to the environment," reported Agence France Presse (AFP)

Nutella, she added, should be made from other ingredients.

The Italian chocolate group that makes Nutella, Ferrero, issued a statement on 16 June, saying that it was aware of the environmental stakes and had made commitments to source palm oil in a responsible manner.

According to Ansa, the French division Ferrero replied to the minister that it only uses "100% certified sustainable palm oil for its products manufactured at Villers-Écalles".

Oil palm cultivation "can go hand in hand with respect for the environment and populations ... no forests or other valued conservancy spaces have been sacrificed" to make Nutella, the company said.

Ferrero gets nearly 80% of its palm oil from Malaysia while the rest of its supply is sourced from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Brazil.

Not the first time France tries to curb palm oil use

In 2011, the Senate Committee on Social Affairs tried to push through a 300% tax on palm oil, claiming that it was dangerously fattening and its cultivation was bad for the environment. The measure was defeated, says AFP.

In February this year, Ferrero Group, which owns Nutella issued a statement saying that since 1 January 2015, it had reached the goal of 100% certified as sustainable and segregated according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil supply chain, one year ahead of its original target.

Ferrero said in addition, it has teamed up with a non-profit organisation, TFT (formerly The Forest Trust) to launch its own Ferrero Palm Oil Charter which has 10 specific criteria which have been handed to suppliers for implementation in the plantations that Ferrero draws its supplies from.