Nestle denies “double standard” in baby food sugar for poorer countries

Nestle denies “double standard” in baby food sugar for poorer countries

Nestle on Thursday denied the allegations that it was applying of a “double standard” in the sugar content of its baby food products sold in poorer countries

A report by Swiss NGO Public Eye accused the food giant of selling baby food with high added sugar content in low- and middle-income countries while offering sugar-free versions in wealthier nations, including Nestle’s home country of Switzerland.

Nestle, however, denied these allegations, stating that “there is no double standard.”

It maintained that it applies “the same nutrition, health and wellness principles everywhere.”

Nestle noted that its formula for babies under 12 months of age does not contain added sugars.

It said it has been phasing out added sugars worldwide in “growing up milks” for children older than one year.

“Our range of cereals for infants and young children are available with and without added sugars in many parts of the world — in Europe as well as in markets in Asia, Latin America, and North America,” the company said.

“We are continuing to roll out options with no added sugar, and our ambition is to have these available everywhere we offer infant and nutrition products,” it said.

In its report, Public Eye cited the Cerelac brand of flour-based cereals for six-month-olds, which it said had more than five grams of sugar per portion in Ethiopia and six grams in Thailand, while it had none in Germany or Britain.

This allegation adds to a growing list of challenges for Nestle.

ShareAction, another NGO, and activist shareholders had already pushed for a vote at the annual meeting regarding the health impact of Nestle products.

While the motion was ultimately unsuccessful, it forced company executives to publicly address the issue.

The report published the day before Nestle’s annual general meeting added to the pressure the company was already under from the ShareAction NGO and activist shareholders, who demanded a vote on the health impact of Nestle products.

Public Eye’s report followed warnings from French regulators about contamination of Nestle-branded mineral waters in France.

The flow of negative news is “raising concerns among shareholders,” according to Jean-Philippe Bertschy, an analyst at Vontobel.

Patrik Schwendimann, an analyst at the Zurich cantonal bank, stated that “investor sentiment towards Nestle has not been this low in more than 25 years.”

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