Nestle adds sugar to baby cereal sold in India but not in Europe, UK: Study

Nestle office.

Nestle, the world’s largest consumer goods company, is facing scrutiny following revelations by Swiss investigative organisation Public Eye regarding the inclusion of sugar and honey in infant milk and cereal products across various countries, including India.

This practice, according to the investigation, contravenes international guidelines aimed at preventing obesity and chronic diseases, particularly in Asian, African, and Latin American nations.

In India, the investigation specifically examined two of Nestle’s top-selling baby food brands, which were found to contain significant levels of added sugar, unlike similar products marketed in developed nations like the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, and Switzerland, where sugar-free options are available.

For instance, the report noted that all 15 Cerelac baby products in India contain an average of nearly 3 grams of sugar per serving, contrasting with the sugar-free versions sold in Germany and the UK. In countries such as Ethiopia and Thailand, the sugar content per serving reportedly reaches almost 6 grams.

The investigation also pointed out that the packaging labels of these products often do not disclose the amount of added sugar, despite Nestle’s prominent highlighting of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in its marketing materials.

Experts caution against the practice of adding sugar to baby products, citing its addictive nature and potential health risks.

Rodrigo Vianna, an epidemiologist and professor at the Department of Nutrition of the Federal University of Paraiba in Brazil, emphasised that adding sugar to baby foods is unnecessary and can lead to a preference for sweet tastes, potentially contributing to obesity and other chronic diseases later in life.

In response to the report, a Nestle India spokesperson informed LiveMint that the company has reduced added sugars by up to 30% in its infant cereals portfolio over the past five years, depending on the product variant.

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