Ethical Concerns Arise: Nestlé Accused of Adding Sugar and Honey to Infant Formula and Breakfast Cereals in Low-Income Countries

▴ Nestlé Accused of Adding Sugar and Honey
In India all cerelac baby cereal products examined by Public eye contained added sugar upto 3 gm per serving.

In recent news, a report by Public Eye and IBFAN has highlighted concerns about Nestlé adding sugar and honey to certain infant-formula and breakfast cereal products sold in lower-income countries, contrasting with practices in Europe. This issue raises ethical and public health questions, especially regarding the impact on vulnerable populations in regions where obesity rates are rising.

Nestlé’s Sugar Addition in Infant Products: According to the report, an analysis of 150 Nestlé products in lower-income countries revealed that nearly all Cerelac-branded infant cereals contained added sugar, averaging around four grams per serving. In some countries like the Philippines, this figure was as high as 7.3 grams. Moreover, in India, all cerelac baby cereal products contained added sugar upto 3 gm per serving. Similarly, Nido powdered milks showed significant added sugar content, with up to two grams per serving identified in most products, reaching 5.3 grams in certain cases in Panama.

The report contrasts this practice with Nestlé’s products in Europe, where similar items are sold without added sugar. This disparity has raised concerns among paediatricians and child nutrition experts, who argue that such practices exploit weaker regulations in certain regions, contributing to health challenges like childhood obesity.

Nestlé’s Response and Actions: In response to these claims, Nestlé defended its practices, emphasizing that it adheres to local regulations and international standards across its operations. The company stated that it has reduced added sugars in its infant cereals portfolio by 11% over the past decade, aiming to balance nutrition, safety, and taste in its products.
Nestlé promotes Cerelac as a nutritious option for infants aged six months and older, highlighting its availability in various countries, including Belgium, Portugal, India, South Africa, and the Philippines. The Nido range is positioned as a trusted brand for childhood nutrition, tailored to different stages of development.

Criticism of Marketing Strategies: Public Eye and IBFAN criticized Nestlé’s marketing strategies, alleging the use of misleading tactics to gain parents trust in its products. They expressed concerns about the involvement of medical professionals and social media influencers in promoting Nestlé’s infant products.

Call for Change and Petition: In response to these findings, Public Eye and IBFAN have launched a petition urging Nestlé to stop adding sugar to products intended for babies and young children globally. They advocate for greater transparency and adherence to WHO recommendations on sugar content in baby foods.

WHO’s Perspective: Nigel Rollins from the World Health Organization (WHO) weighed in on the issue, highlighting the ethical and public health implications of Nestlé’s sugar practices. He emphasized the need for consistent standards in product formulation, especially concerning vulnerable populations.

Reformulation and Transparency: Nestlé responded by reaffirming its commitment to reducing added sugars in infant-cereal products without compromising quality. The company mentioned ongoing efforts to phase out added sugars from its Nido growing up milks globally, aligning with evolving nutritional guidelines. While variations in product recipes exist across countries due to regulatory factors and ingredient availability, Nestlé emphasized that these variations do not compromise product quality.

The debate over sugar in Nestlé’s infant products exposes broader concerns about nutrition, health, and corporate responsibility. The call for transparency, adherence to global health guidelines, and equitable practices in product formulation highlights the importance of ensuring the well-being of infants and young children, regardless of geographic location or socio-economic status. As stakeholders continue to advocate for change, the focus remains on promoting healthier options and fostering greater accountability in the infant nutrition industry.

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Sunny Parayan

Hey there! I'm Sunny, a passionate writer with a strong interest in the healthcare domain! When I'm not typing on my keyboard, I watch shows and listen to music. I hope that through my work, I can make a positive impact on people's lives by helping them live happier and healthier.

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