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Nestle adds sugar to baby food 'only in poor nations', not in UK & Europe

A report by Public Eye says that in India, all 15 Cerelac baby products contain an average of nearly 3 grams of sugar per serving

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Nandini Singh New Delhi

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Nestle, the world's largest consumer goods company, has come under scrutiny following revelations by Public Eye, a Swiss investigative organisation, regarding the addition of sugar and honey to infant milk and cereal products in various countries, including India. 

The investigation suggests that this practice violates international guidelines aimed at preventing obesity and chronic diseases. However, these violations were reportedly found only in Asian, African, and Latin American countries.

What did the investigation reveal about baby food brands in India?


In India, the investigation focused on two of Nestle's best-selling baby food brands, which were found to contain high levels of added sugar. This stands in stark contrast to the products sold in the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, Switzerland, and other developed nations, where such items are sugar-free.

According to the report, all 15 Cerelac baby products in India contain an average of nearly 3 grams of sugar per serving, while the same products are marketed with no added sugar in Germany and the UK.

In countries like Ethiopia and Thailand, the sugar content per serving is reported to be nearly 6 grams.

Do Nestle's packaging labels disclose the amount of sugar?


The report highlighted that the nutritional information provided on the packaging of such products often omits details about added sugar.

The report further said that while Nestle prominently highlights the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients contained in its products using idealising imagery, it's not transparent about added sugar.

 

What do experts say about adding sugar and its effects on babies?


Adding sugar to baby products is a dangerous and unnecessary practice as it is very addictive, according to experts.

Rodrigo Vianna, an epidemiologist and professor at the Department of Nutrition of the Federal University of Paraiba in Brazil, emphasised the risks associated with this practice.

"This is a big concern. Sugar should not be added to foods offered to babies and young children because it is unnecessary and highly addictive. Children get used to the sweet taste and start looking for more sugary foods, starting a negative cycle that increases the risk of nutrition-based disorders in adult life. These include obesity and other chronic non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes or high blood pressure," he was quoted as saying by Public Eye.

What was Nestle's response to the report?


A Nestle India spokesperson told LiveMint, "Over the past five years, Nestle India has reduced added sugars by up to 30 per cent, depending on the variant, in our infant cereals portfolio [milk cereal-based complementary food]."

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First Published: Apr 18 2024 | 11:28 AM IST

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