Nestle India on sugar controversy: ‘No risk or harm, racial charges unfortunate’ - Hindustan Times
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Nestle India on sugar controversy: ‘No risk or harm, racial charges unfortunate’

Apr 29, 2024 04:07 PM IST

Nestle sugar controversy: Nestle India chairman said that allegations that the formulations are "racially stereotyped is unfortunate" and untrue.

Nestle India Chairman & Managing Director Suresh Narayanan said that the company's infant food formulation for children below 18 months is done on a global basis. Allegations that the formulations are "racially stereotyped is unfortunate" and untrue, he said, adding that the sugar content in infant foods is determined by the capability to meet the nutrition profile of a particular age group.

Nestle sugar controversy: A report claimed that two of the best-selling baby-food brands by Nestle in India contain high levels of added sugar.
Nestle sugar controversy: A report claimed that two of the best-selling baby-food brands by Nestle in India contain high levels of added sugar.

Nestle India's sugar content in Cerelac is much lower than the upper limit prescribed by FSSAI, he said, adding, “There is nothing in this product that makes it a product that is potentially of any risk or any kind of harm to the child.”

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A majority of sugars present in the product are natural sugars, he said. While Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)'s permissible level of added sugar is 13.6 grams per 100 grams of feed, he said, “Nestle is 7.1 grams, which is well below the standards and the maximum limits set up.”

This comes after Nestle was accused of selling products with more sugar content in less developed countries. As per findings by Swiss NGO, Public Eye and International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), Nestle sold baby products with higher sugar content in South Asian countries including India.

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"There is no local kind of approach to making a nutritional adequacy study...Globally, the recipes are engendered in an age where energy dense products are needed by growing children. So there is no distinction that is made between a child in Europe and a child in India or any other parts of the world," Suresh Narayanan said.

This formulation gets translated into a product locally on the basis of "different considerations on local regulatory requirements on local availability of raw materials on some of the maternal feeding habits", he said.

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"I also want to add here very clearly that (both) added-sugar products and no-added-sugar products are present in Europe as well as in Asia. So the unfortunate allegation that it is racially stereotyped is unfortunate ... untrue," he said.

Although, meeting the "nutritional profile" could be different and the ingredients could also be different, he said, adding, “That we have the need in India is the reason why we have added this, but at levels which are much lower than what is even specified by the local regulator and I think one has to have the trust and confidence that the local regulator knows what we are putting there. So, it's not a dramatic deviation that has been done.”

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