Indian food regulator begins Nestle enquiry

The enquiry is over alleged sugar use in baby foods
calendar icon 22 April 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

The Indian food regulator has started an enquiry into Nestle India over the alleged use of sugar in baby food products in low-income countries, including India, by its Swiss parent, the Economic Times (ET) reported on Thursday, according to Reuters.

A Swiss investigative organisation, Public Eye, on Wednesday, released a report saying that Nestle, the world's biggest packaged food company, adds sugar to its baby food products sold in low-income countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia, but not in its main markets in Europe or the UK.

Public Eye conducted product testing in a Belgian laboratory.

The report showed that in India, all of the 15 products under Nestle's Cerelac brand -- made for infants aged six months and older -- contained nearly three grams of added sugar per serving, on an average. However, it added that the added sugar content was declared on the packaging of the products.

Responding to the allegations, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) affirmed its commitment to investigating the issue thoroughly, the ET report said.

If Nestle is found to be at fault, the regulatory body has vowed to take stringent action against the brand, the ET report added.

Nestle India shares closed 3.3% lower on Thursday, logging its worst day since October 2022, while Nestle SA was up 0.5%.

"We...ensure that our products manufactured in India are in full and strict compliance with CODEX standards (a commission established by WHO and FAO) and local specifications (as required) pertaining to the requirements of all nutrients including added sugars," Nestle India told Reuters, while commenting on the report.

"Over the past 5 years, Nestle India has reduced added sugars by up to 30%, depending on the variant, in our infant cereals portfolio (milk cereal based complementary food)."

Nestle SA told Public Eye that it complies with the World Health Organization Code and subsequent World Health Assembly resolutions as implemented by national governments everywhere in the world.

Nestle SA did not immediately responded to a Reuters request for comment on the report.

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