The French national assembly's social affairs commission has rejected a proposal to increase a special tax on palm oil from EUR100 (US$129) to EUR300 per tonne. The so-called 'Nutella amendment' had been initiated by the French Senate and justified on the grounds of promoting healthier eating and combating obesity.
It was to have formed part of a bill containing a raft of tax measures - other products targeted being beer and energy drinks - designed to reduce France's social security deficit.
According to news sources, Nutella® is 20-percent palm oil, so had the tax passed, the price of the popular spread would have likely increased by about 0.06 Euros per kilo, or about three-and-one-third cents per pound. But the anticipated price increase apparently upset French consumers, who have traditionally been among Nutella’s® most vocal fans. The spread is a common filling for crepes eaten both at breakfast and for dessert.
A Senate spokesperson said the commission's decision effectively spelt the end of the amendment.
The Assembly will next week give the bill its second reading, without the Nutella amendment, before being forwarded to the Senate."Even if the Senate rejects the bill again, the Assembly always has the last word and the final vote," the spokesperson added.
Proposed by Senator Yves Daudigny who said he was motivated by concerns the high level of saturated fat in palm oil could increase risks of obesity and cause heart disease. "This tax would be a price signal, not to consumers but to food makers so that they replace these oils by new recipes, more respectful of human health," the amendment says.
If Mr Daudigny is truly concerned with the consumption of saturated fats, he should explain why butter and cheese which are even higher in saturated fats should be exempt from his proposed bill. Further, unlike butter and cheese, tons of scientific studies have shown that palm oil is, in fact heart friendly as the saturated fatty acids in the sn-1 and -3 position (typically found in palm oil) has very different biological consequences than animal fats such as butter and milk fats as the saturated fats are primarily found in the sn-2 position! (Vide: Donald J. McNamara, PhD: “Palm Oil and Heart Health: A case of Manipulated Perception and Misuse of Science” 240S Vol 29 No. 3(s) Journal of the American College of Nutrition)
Palm oil is also the richest source of the heart friendly anti-oxidant tocotrienol, a superior form of Vitamin E as well as other heart friendly phyto-nutrients such as Co Enzyme Q10, betacarotenes and other polyphenols.
French health minister Marisol Tourraine's lukewarm reaction to the proposal was an early indication that the bill was unlikely to pass, at least without some amendment. "It is normal to deal with the health impact of palm oil but I'm not sure that we should engage the debate in the framework of a purely financial amendment," Ms Tourraine told Canal+ television.
Kudos are due to the National Assembly’s Commission for a reasoned and balanced approach to this highly prejudicial bill. Ultimately, the French consumer should take the credit for vociferously voicing their opposition towards a bill that was a travesty to begin with but which is ultimately exposed as an offensively discriminatory bill! THE END