• Sunday, May 26, 2024
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NAFDAC investigating sugar-fraud in Nestle milk, cereals – Adeyeye

NAFDAC begins nationwide crackdown on illegal merchants of herbal medicines

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is investigating sugar-fraud in children’s cereal and milk produced by Nestle, the world’s largest consumer goods company, Mojisola Adeyeye, NAFDAC director-general has told BusinessDay.

This comes after findings by a Swiss investigative media, Campaigners Public Eye, revealed that Nestle adds sugar and honey to infant cereal and milk products sold in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The results of samples tested at a Belgian laboratory shows that added sugar or honey were present in Cerelac, a cereal-based meal for six months to two years olds.

The same ingredients were also present in Nido, a follow-up milk formula intended for use in toddlers aged one to two.

Nido Kinder 1+ products sold in South-Africa, Nigeria and Senegal all contained nearly 1g per serving, the report said.

“I’ve asked my director of food safety and applied nutrition to look at it. We don’t know the details yet,” Adeyeye said.

In Nestle’s main European markets, including the UK, there is no added sugar in formulas for young children. While some cereals aimed at older toddlers contain added sugar, there is none in products targeted at babies between six months and one year.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) for the European region stipulates that added sugars or sweetening agents are not permitted in any food for children under three. While no guidance has been specifically produced for other regions, researchers say the European document remains equally relevant to other parts of the world.

Laurent Gaberell, Public Eye’s agriculture and nutrition expert, said: “Nestlé must put an end to these dangerous double standards and stop adding sugar in all products for children under three years old, in every part of the world.”

The UK recommends that children under four avoid food with added sugars because of risks including weight gain and tooth decay. US government guidelines recommend avoiding foods and drinks with added sugars for those younger than two.

In its report, written in collaboration with the International Baby Food Action Network, Public Eye said data from Euromonitor International, a market-research company, revealed global retail sales of above $1bn for Cerelac. The highest figures are in low- and middle-income countries, with 40 percent of sales just in Brazil and India.

According to Guardian UK, a Nestlé spokesperson said: “We believe in the nutritional quality of our products for early childhood and prioritise using high-quality ingredients adapted to the growth and development of children.”

She said that within the “highly regulated” category of baby food, Nestlé always complied “with local regulations or international standards, including labelling requirements and thresholds on carbohydrate content that encompasses sugars” and declared total sugars in its products, including those coming from honey.

Tests on Cerelac products sold in India showed, on average, more than 2.7g of added sugar for every serving.

In Brazil, where Cerelac is known as Mucilon, two out of eight products were found to have no added sugar but the other six contained nearly 4g for each serving. In Nigeria, one product tested had up to 6.8g .

Meanwhile, tests on products from the Nido brand, which has worldwide retail sales of more than $1bn, revealed significant variation in sugar levels.

In the Philippines, products aimed at toddlers contain no added sugar. However, in Indonesia, Nido baby-food products, sold as Dancow, all contained about 2g of added sugar per 100g of product in the form of honey, or 0.8g a serving.

In Mexico, two of the three Nido products available for toddlers contained no added sugar, but the third contained 1.7g per serving.