May 27, 2024

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New report reveals Nestlé adding sugar to infant formula sold in poor countries

New report reveals Nestlé adding sugar to infant formula sold in poor countries



New report reveals Nestlé adding sugar to infant formula sold in poor countries

A report has found that Nestlé, the world’s largest consumer goods company, has been adding sugar and honey to infant milk and cereal products sold in many poor countries, in violation of international guidelines aimed at preventing obesity and chronic diseases.

Activists from the Swiss investigative organization Public Eye sent samples of infant food products sold by the Swiss multinational corporation in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to a laboratory in Belgium for testing. The results, along with checks on product packaging, revealed the presence of added sugar in the samples of the “Nido” follow-up milk brand for children aged one and above, and in the “Cerelac” cereal products for children aged six months to two years.

New report reveals Nestlé adding sugar to infant formula sold in poor countries

While there is no added sugar in toddler formula milk in Nestlé’s major European markets, some cereals for older children do contain added sugar, but products for infants aged six months to one year do not.

Laurent Gaberell, an agriculture and nutrition expert at Public Eye, said, “Nestlé must end this dangerous double standard and stop adding sugar to all products for children under three years of age produced worldwide.”

Obesity is becoming a problem in low- and middle-income countries. According to the World Health Organization, the number of overweight children under the age of five in Africa has increased by nearly 23% since 2000. Globally, more than 1 billion people are obese.

For consumers in any country, determining whether a product contains added sugar and the amount of added sugar is not easy based solely on the nutrition information printed on the packaging. Labels often lump natural sugars from milk and fruit together with any added sugars under the same heading.

Guidelines set by the World Health Organization for the European region state that no food for children under three years old should contain added sugars or sweeteners. While there are no specific guidelines for other regions, researchers say the European documents apply equally to the rest of the world.

The UK advises children under four years old to avoid foods with added sugar due to the risks of weight gain and tooth decay. The US government’s guidelines recommend that children under two years old avoid foods and beverages with added sugars.

In a report co-authored with the International Baby Food Action Network, Public Eye stated that market research firm Euromonitor International’s data showed that Cerelac’s global retail sales exceeded $1 billion (£800 million). Sales in low- and middle-income countries were highest, with Brazil and India accounting for 40% of sales.

Dr. Nigel Rollins of the World Health Organization said the findings represented “a double standard […] that doesn’t make sense.”

Researchers found that biscuits and flavored cereals for infants over six months old in Senegal and South Africa contained 6 grams of added sugar per serving. Similar products sold in Switzerland did not contain added sugar.

Tests on Cerelac products sold in India showed an average of over 2.7 grams of added sugar per serving.

In Brazil, Cerelac is known as Mucilon, with two of the eight products containing no added sugar, but the other six products containing nearly 4 grams of sugar per serving. In Nigeria, one product tested had as much as 6.8 grams of added sugar.

Meanwhile, tests on Nestlé’s Nido brand products, which have retail sales exceeding $1 billion globally, showed significant variations in sugar content.

In the Philippines, products for toddlers do not contain any added sugar. However, Nido infant food sold under the name Dancow in Indonesia contains about 2 grams of added sugar in the form of honey per 100 grams, or 0.8 grams per serving.

In Mexico, two out of three Nido products for toddlers do not contain added sugar, but the third product contains 1.7 grams of sugar per serving. The report stated that Nido Kinder 1+ products sold in South Africa, Nigeria, and Senegal each contain nearly 1 gram of sugar per serving.

A Nestlé spokesperson said, “We believe in the nutritional quality of our infant products and prioritize the use of high-quality ingredients suitable for children’s growth and development.” She said that in the “highly regulated” category of infant foods, Nestlé always complies with “local regulations or international standards, including labeling requirements and thresholds for carbohydrate content, including sugars,” and discloses the total sugars in its products, including those from honey. Recipe changes depend on various factors, including regulations and local ingredient availability. Over the past decade, the company has reduced the total amount of added sugars in its infant cereal product portfolio by 11% globally and will continue to reformulate its products to further reduce added sugars. Sucrose and glucose syrups are being phased out of the “Growing Up Milk” for toddlers worldwide.

New report reveals Nestlé adding sugar to infant formula sold in poor countries

References:

  • Nestlé Adds Sugar to Baby Milk and Cereal in Poorer Nations: by Time Magazine
  • Nestle baby foods controversy: We never compromise on the nutritional quality of our products, says Nestle India

(source:internet, reference only)


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