Hidden Dangers: Does Nestle add sugars to baby food products and why it harms children?

Nestle is under criticism following a recent report that found added sugars in its baby foods sold in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, but not in Europe. This has sparked outrage on social media, with users accusing the Swiss food giant of having “double standards.”

The Indian government has also taken note of the issue, with the Union Consumer Affairs Ministry instructing the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to take action against Nestle, as reported by Indian Express.

We will delve into the controversy surrounding added sugars and why they are considered harmful.

Nestle faces scrutiny

Nestle’s baby products in developing nations were found to contain added sugars.

A report titled ‘How Nestle gets children hooked on sugar in lower-income countries’ by Swiss NGO Public Eye and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) revealed that several Nestle baby products in different countries contained high levels of added sugar, contrasting with products sold in Switzerland that have no added sugar, as reported by Indian Express.

According to The Hindu, around 150 baby products from Nestle were tested in a Belgian laboratory, with findings showing added sugars in products sold in countries like India, Ethiopia, and Thailand but not in the UK and Germany.

Public Eye accused Nestle of using deceptive marketing strategies and highlighted disparities in sugar content across different markets.

Nestle India’s response

A spokesperson for Nestle India informed Indian Express that the company has reduced added sugars in its infant cereals by up to 30% in the last five years without compromising on nutritional quality.

In 2022, Nestle reportedly sold over Rs 20,000 crore worth of Cerelac products in India, as per The Hindu.

India calls for action against Nestle

The Union Consumer Affairs Ministry urged the FSSAI to investigate Nestle’s baby cereals following concerns raised by the Public Eye report.

The ministry emphasized the importance of children’s health and well-being and asked for appropriate action to ensure safety standards are met.

Added sugars: what you need to know

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define added sugars as sugars and syrups added to processed foods and beverages.

added sugars
Sugar is generally not advised for infants. Pixabay (Representational Image)

Added sugars include various types like brown sugar, corn syrup, honey, and more, as per the CDC.

Why added sugar is harmful

Added sugars are not recommended for infants as they provide empty calories without essential nutrients, increasing the risk of health issues like obesity, cardiovascular disease, and tooth decay.

In 2020, US dietary guidelines advised against added sugars for children under two years old, while the WHO recommends limiting daily free sugar intake for adults and children.

Experts warn that introducing added sugar to baby foods can lead to addictive eating habits and preferences for sweet tastes at an early age.

Health professionals suggest avoiding added sugars in foods for babies and children to prevent future health complications.

Source: The Hindu

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