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SCDA urges FSSAI to act on Nestle India for allegedly adding high level sugar in baby foods

SCDA urges FSSAI to act on Nestle India for allegedly adding high level sugar in baby foods

Posted on April 26, 2024 Updated on April 23, 2024

Delhi-based South Chemists & Distributors Association (SCDA), which represents chemists and pharmaceutical distributors working in Delhi, has requested the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to take action against multinational corporation Nestle India for allegedly adding high sugar content in baby foods, affecting the health of children.

In a letter to ministry of health and family welfare secretary Apurva Chandra and senior officials in the FSSAI, the Association referred to news reports on a study by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), which alleges that Nestle baby products in poorer countries contain high level of added sugar which are not present in developed countries.

Referring to various news and feature reports from various publications, the Association alleged that the infants below 24 months should not be given any added sugar for consumption, but the company is adding sugar which can be to reduce cost of production. It added that increased consumption of added sugar increases risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer and lifelong chronic illness.

Alleging that the company has caused irreparable harm to the children of India the Association pointed that the Sections the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 puts the responsibility on FSSAI to monitor manufacturing, processing, distribution, sale and import of food and ensure safe and wholesome food, and limiting the use of food additives. The Act also mentions that FSSAI has the responsibility to achieve an appropriate level of protection of human life and health protection of consumer interests.

“As a responsible association, we request action from FSSAI towards Nestle India under Section 54 of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 along with any other penal section FSSAI may deem fit. Such action under the existing laws is of utmost requirement as the MNCs take our country for granted and they do not think about our health over their profit motives,” said the letter signed by Yash Aggarwal, legal head of SCDA.

The new reports on the study said that Cerelac baby cereals in India have nearly three grams of added sugar per serving and the same products contain five to six grams of sugar per serving in Ethiopia and Thailand respectively.

Responding to the allegations in the new reports, Nestle India on April 18 said, “Reduction of added sugars is a priority for Nestlé India. Over the past 5 years, we have already reduced added sugars by up to 30%, depending on the variant. We regularly review our portfolio and continue to innovate and reformulate our products to further reduce the level of added sugars, without compromising on nutrition, quality, safety, and taste.”

The company added that it ensures that its products manufactured in India are in full and strict compliance with CODEX standards (a commission established by WHO and FAO) and local specifications (as required) pertaining to the requirements of all nutrients including added sugars.

Reports also pointed out that Nestle in its website carries an advice that it is not recommended to add sugar when preparing food for the baby, and not to offer the baby sugary drinks.

Source : 1