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Nestle’s Cerelac Controversy Erupts Again: NGOs Urge Swiss Government to Act on Baby Food Practices

Nestle India is under fire again over its popular baby food, Cerelac. Global NGOs Public Eye and IBFAN have asked the Swiss government to take legal action against Nestle for “unethical and unfair business practices” in poorer countries, according to a report by Times of India.

Accusations of Double Standards

Back in April, these NGOs accused Nestle of “double standards.” They claimed that Nestle’s top baby food brands, including Cerelac, contain high levels of added sugar in developing countries like India. This goes against WHO guidelines, which say baby foods shouldn’t have added sugars. The NGOs argue that Nestle’s misleading and aggressive marketing, combined with the high sugar content, is unfair and harmful to children in these countries. They believe it’s important to protect children and uphold Switzerland’s reputation.

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Nestle’s Response

A Nestle India spokesperson said the authorities are analysing infant cereals and formulas sold by all companies in India. Nestle pointed out that they have reduced the sugar content in their baby food by up to 30% over the last five years in India.

In April, after the issue was raised, Nestle India’s Chairman and Managing Director, Suresh Narayanan, stated that Cerelac follows local food regulations. He highlighted that the sugar levels in their baby foods are well within the limits set by India’s food regulator.

Market Impact

Despite the controversy, Cerelac remains a strong player in the baby food market. Nestle holds a 20% share of this market, which is worth nearly $70 billion. In 2022, Cerelac and another brand, Nido, generated over $2.5 billion in sales, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Regulatory Review

Following these allegations, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) started investigating the sugar content in Cerelac. Suresh Narayanan mentioned that Cerelac contains about half the maximum allowable sugar as per FSSAI guidelines. He also noted that the controversy hasn’t significantly affected Cerelac’s sales.

Compliance with Standards

Narayanan assured that Nestle complies fully with both CODEX standards (set by WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization) and local regulations regarding nutrients, including added sugars.

The debate continues as NGOs push for stricter actions, while Nestle maintains that its products are safe and compliant with all relevant standards.

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