When news headlines attacked Nutella last week, linking the spread to cancer, the Internet generated immense buzz defending the beloved hazelnut spread.

However, it is important to point out that Nutella itself isn't alleged to be cancerous, but rather one of its key ingredients: palm oil. A lot of food products we eat today contain palm oil.

What is palm oil?

Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is used in countless consumer products and most notably, Nutella, to give the spread its smooth consistency.

So what's the big deal?

The European Food Safety Authority released a report last May, claiming that palm oil could potentially be a carcinogen —especially when heated at temperatures beyond 200° C. Palm oil is often heated to this temperature during the production of many consumer products to remove the oil's color and smell. However, Ferrero (the producers of Nutella) claims that they don't heat their oil to this temperature and has even launched an advertising campaign to educate the public on palm oil.

And besides that?

In addition to the health risks that palm oil may pose, it has also developed a notoriously bad reputation for being incredibly damaging to the environment. Palm oil plantations have led to deforestation, pollution, destruction of animal habitats, and illegal clearance of indigenous lands.

But there's no way I could be associated with this...

Palm oil is a big part of consumer goods used on a daily basis by the entire world. Here are just some of the most common products that boast palm oil as an ingredient:

1. Ice Cream

candy, relish, ice, goody, chocolate, wafer, cream, waffle, sweet
Alex Frank

In order to cut down on costs, ice cream makers have been opting for palm oil instead of real cream in order to make the frozen dessert smooth in texture.

2. Peanut butter

peanut, candy, cake, dairy product, butter, cream, milk, sweet, chocolate, peanut butter
Jocelyn Hsu

Many spreads, including peanut butter, uses palm oil as an ingredient to keep the spread's malleable, velvet-like texture

3. Cookies

cookie, chocolate
Jocelyn Hsu

Cookies also fall culprit to using palm oil as an ingredient in their recipes. Even the beloved Girl Scout cookies aren't immune from the pervasiveness of the oil, and the organization has been working on removing palm oil from their cookies.

4. Chocolate

mocha, cappuccino, chocolate, espresso, relish, cereal, coffee
Christin Urso

Chocolate producers also are culprit to using palm oil in their recipes. Though there have been initiatives to move away from the usage, competition from leading brands have forced chocolate companies to continue to use palm oil for fear of losing business.

5. Tofurkey

cheese, chocolate, meat, sweet, bread
Alexandra Caruso

Moving away from dessert, other food products also contain palm oil. Tofurkey, a popular turkey substitute for people with vegan lifestyles, also contains the oil as one of its ingredients.

6. Instant Noodles

rice, pasta, noodle, soup, ramen
Irene Kim

A popular food staple for broke college students, instant noodles use significant amounts of palm oil—and some of the biggest producers of instant noodles do not even have responsible palm oil use policies.

6. Bread

cream, bread, sweet
Christin Urso

Palm oil is inexpensive and easy to bake with, making it a popular ingredient in many bread recipes.

7. Potato Chip 

french fries, corn, potato, chips, salt
Emily Palmer

When you're relaxing and binge-watching Netflix, the perfect companion is a delicious bag of chips. However, due to the inexpensiveness and convenience of palm oil, many chip brands incorporate the oil into their recipes.

The presence of palm oil is a pervasive, key ingredient in many of the things we consume. Even beyond food products, palm oil can be found in numerous everyday items such as detergent, biodiesel, makeup, lotions, soaps, and more.

So what can I do about it?

Though some companies directly list palm oil as an ingredient on product labels, other companies may be more discrete and group palm oil under vegetable oil. Though this is not to say all vegetable oil is a disguise for palm oil, it is important to remember to remain vigilant about ingredients when we are shopping as consumers.