World’s largest consumer goods company Nestle adds sugar and honey to infant milk and cereal products in several countries including India, an investigation by Public Eye claimed. This is in direct violation of international guidelines that focus on preventing obesity and chronic diseases. But the violations were found only in Asian, African, and Latin American countries.

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

What investigation revealed on baby food brands in India?

The report claimed that two of the best-selling baby-food brands by Nestle in India contain high levels of added sugar. Meanwhile such products are sugar-free in the United Kingdom, Germany Switzerland, and other developed nations, Public Eye noted. In India, all 15 Cerelac baby products contain an average of nearly 3 grams of sugar per serving, findings showed. This same product is being sold with no added sugar in Germany and the UK, it added. In Ethiopia and Thailand, the product contains nearly 6 grams of sugar per serving, the study said.

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Does Nestle disclose sugar amounts on the packaging labels?

Added sugar is often not included in the nutritional information available on the packaging of these kinds of products, the report noted, adding, “While Nestle prominently highlights the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients contained in its products using idealizing imagery, it’s not transparent when it comes to added sugar.”

What experts say on adding sugar and its effect on babies?

Experts believe that adding sugar to baby products is a dangerous and unnecessary practice as it is very addictive. Rodrigo Vianna, epidemiologist and Professor at the Department of Nutrition of the Federal University of Paraiba in Brazil said as per the report, “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”

What Nestle said in response to the report?

A Nestle India spokesperson told LiveMint, “Over the past five years, Nestlé India has reduced added sugars by up to 30%, depending on the variant, in our infant cereals portfolio (milk cereal-based complementary food).”

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