France's ecology minister wants her people to end their addiction to Nutella, saying the popular cocoa and hazelnut spread is destroying the planet.

Nutella is to France what peanut butter is to Canadians – a delicious and ubiquitous spread found in just about every kitchen of the country. But Segolene Royal says Nutella is causing an environmental disaster.

In an interview Monday with the French television network Canal+, the minister said the harvest of palm oil -- the ingredient that makes Nutella so creamy -- is causing deforestation.

“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.

She added that Nutella should be made from “other ingredients.”

Without addressing Royal's comments, Ferrero, the Italian chocolate group that makes Nutella, issued a statement Tuesday, saying it was aware of the environmental toll of palm oil harvesting and had made commitments to source the oil in a responsible manner.

Ferrero said it gets nearly 80 per cent of its palm oil from Malaysia. The rest of its supply comes from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Brazil.

On its website, Ferrero says it uses the same Nutella recipe in every part of the world and has chosen palm oil because it is ideal for providing a smooth texture without the need for hydrogenation. The chocolate maker says the oil has a neutral odour, offers "excellent mouth feel," and can handle high heat and extended shelf time.

The World Wildlife Fund says global production of palm oil has doubled over the last decade and now accounts for 65 per cent of all vegetable oils traded internationally.

Palm oil is used not only as a food ingredient, but also in cosmetics, detergents and as biofuel.

The WWF says oil palm trees only grow in wet, tropical areas, and as new palm plantations are developed and expanded, thousands of acres of tropical forest are cut down, destroying the habitat of all kinds of threatened species, including orangutans and elephants.

Ferrero says has been a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil since 2005. The group brings together palm oil traders and environmental non-profit groups, such as the WWF and Greenpeace, to find ways to improve oil palm plantation and extraction.

In a tweet Tuesday, Royal apologized for the “controversy,” but appeared to remain steadfast in her earlier comments, saying in French that it’s OK “to showcase progress.”