Unhealthy amount of sugar found in baby food products of a well-known brand

April 22, 2024  22:12

European NGOs have examined Nestlé's baby food range, finding that it seems that for this food giant, not all babies are the same, Euronews writes.

Nestlé baby food products sold in low- and middle-income countries contain unhealthy amounts of sugar. Experts from the Swiss non-governmental organisation Public Eye and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) found this out in a study.

They noted that the food giant generally complies with marketing restrictions in Europe, but "takes advantage of the weakness of existing regulations" in poorer regions.

The experts examined around 150 products that Nestlé supplies around the world. Mixes and cereals hitting shop shelves in Switzerland, Germany, France and the UK were unsweetened, while boxes of the same name in the Philippines, South Africa and Thailand contained inadequate amounts of sugar per serving. "There is clearly a double standard here for which there is no excuse," says Nigel Rollins of the World Health Organisation.

Nestlé controls 20 per cent of the global infant formula market. One of its directors, Thierry Filardo, said in 2020 that 15 million babies depend on the group's products.

Cerelac wheat porridge and Nido milk powder are the number one brands in the world, with sales exceeding 2 billion euros in 2022. The authors of the study found that one serving of Cerelac for six-month-olds sold in Thailand contains 6g of sugar (one and a half cubes per serving). In Germany and the UK, the same instant cereal is labelled "sugar-free".

Laurent Gaberell, an agriculture and food expert at Public Eye, told our channel that "Nestlé has decided not to add sugar to baby food in European markets because it knows what local consumers expect". The Public Eye investigation voiced ethical concerns about the food giant's commercial practices as well. It has emerged that in a number of countries the multinational corporation is using social media and influencers to "gain the trust of parents in its products". According to Phillip Baker, a senior researcher at the University of Sydney, the company relies on loyal experts to build consumer attachment "from cradle to grave".

Meanwhile, Nestlé knows that sugar is bad for babies. "It is not recommended to add sugar when preparing food for the baby, to offer him sweetened drinks," says the French version of the company's website for parents, Baby & Me.

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