CCPA asks FSSAI to probe into reports on Cerelac; ‘Reduced sugar by 30% in baby foods,’ claims Nestle

The report also asserted that products sold in low-income countries contained a higher sugar content compared to those in more affluent regions.

BySumit Jha

Published Apr 19, 2024 | 11:40 AMUpdatedApr 19, 2024 | 11:40 AM

Ceralac nestle fssai

Following reports alleging that Nestle’s Cerelac in India violates WHO guidelines, Consumer protection regulator (CCPA) asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) to look into the claim made by Public Eye.

“We have written to the FSSAI to take cognizance of the report on Nestle’s baby product,” Consumer Affairs Secretary and the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) chief Nidhi Khare told PTI on Friday, 19 April.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has also taken note of the report and issued a notice to the FSSAI.

The claim asserts that Nestle, a Swiss multinational company, has added sugar to its milk formula brand Cerelac— intended for infants and children up to two years old.

The investigation also asserted that products sold in low-income countries contained a higher sugar content compared to those in more affluent regions.

Government sources informed news agency ANI that FSSAI is currently reviewing the report and will present it to the scientific panel for further evaluation.

Meanwhile, Nestle India on Thursday, 18 April, in a statement said that it has reduced added sugar in baby food products in India by over 30 percent depending on variants over the past five years.

Sugar shock: Cerelac in India flouts WHO guidelines; Nestle’s double standard exposed

Reduced sugar in baby foods in last five years

Nestle spokesperson said, ” Reducing added sugars is a priority for Nestle India. Over the past five years, we have already reduced added sugars by up to 30 percent, depending on the variant. ”

The spokesperson reiterated, “We regularly review our portfolio and continue to innovate and reformulate our products to further reduce the level of added sugars, without compromising on nutrition, quality, safety, and taste.”

Nestle India asserted that its “Infant cereal products are manufactured to ensure the appropriate delivery of nutritional requirements such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, iron etc. for early childhood”.

“We never compromise and will never compromise on the nutritional quality of our products. We constantly leverage our extensive Global Research and Development network to enhance the nutritional profile of our products,” the spokesperson said.

Stressing that compliance is an essential characteristic of Nestle India, the spokesperson said, “We will never compromise on that. We also 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 said it is “committed to delivering the best nutrition to our consumers, which we have been doing for over 100 years and would always maintain highest standards of nutrition, quality and safety in our products”.

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Nestle’s double standard

As per the Public Eye and IBFAN report, around 150 different baby products sold in different countries were studied, which revealed the sugar content disparity.

Biscuit-flavoured cereals, for instance, contain significantly higher levels of added sugar in certain regions compared to others, indicating unequal treatment of infants based on their geographical backgrounds.

While Cerelac products in Europe and the UK boast no added sugar, counterparts in other regions, including India, reveal a concerning average of over 2.7 grams of added sugar per serving.

“In India, where sales surpassed $250 million in 2022, all Cerelac baby cereals contain added sugar, on average nearly 3 grams per serving. The same situation prevails in South Africa, the main market on the African continent, where all Cerelac baby cereals contain four grams or more of added sugar per serving,” said the investigation.

The WHO has expressed concerns regarding obesity, which is dramatically on the rise, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where it has now reached “epidemic proportions”.

Obesity fuels an increase in non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

Health experts single out increased consumption of ultra-processed foods, often high in sugar, as one of the main causes of this epidemic.

(With PTI inputs)

(Edited by Sumavarsha Kandula)