Sugar Content In Cerelac Lower Than FSSAI Limit: Nestle

Mumbai: Nestle India on Monday rejected the charges relating to the company selling baby food products like Cerelac with higher sugar content in less developed countries like India. Chairman and managing director Suresh Narayanan said the allegation is racially stereotyped, unfortunate and untrue.

Narayanan said that added sugar content in Cerelac is much lower than the upper limit prescribed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). “There is nothing in this product that makes it potentially of any risk or any kind of harm to the child,” he said.

As per the FSSAI, the permissible level of added sugar is 13.6 grams per 100 grams of feed. “Nestle is 7.1 grams, which is well below the standards and the maximum limits set up,” Narayanan said, adding that the company’s infant food formulation for children below 18 months is done on a global basis.

The company is looking at introducing Cerelac without added sugar in India, but it would be difficult to specify an exact timeline, Narayanan said. “In the last five years, there has almost been a 30% reduction in its levels and we are looking at further ways of reducing this as we go along; it is also an ongoing process,” he said.

Acknowledging that the FSSAI has sought information on the sugar content in Cerelac from the company, he added that the sugar controversy has not had significant impact on sales of Cerelac.

Speaking at a media roundtable, Narayanan said the amount of sugar content in infant foods is determined by the capability to meet the nutrition profile of a particular age group and that is universal. As far as Nestle is concerned, he said a majority of sugar present in the product is natural sugar.

“There is no local kind of approach to making a nutritional adequacy study. Globally, the recipes are engendered in an age where energy dense products are needed by growing children. So, there is no distinction that is made between a child in Europe and a child in India or any other parts of the world,” Narayanan said, adding that the Codex requirement is fully followed up for Cerelac.

The Codex is a collection of internationally recognised standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations relating to food, food production, food labelling and food safety. India is also a part of the Codex committee.

“I also want to add here very clearly that (both) added-sugar products and no-added-sugar products are present in Europe as well as in Asia. So, the unfortunate allegation that it is racially stereotyped is unfortunate and untrue,” he said.

Explaining the rationale behind added sugar content in Nestle’s baby food in India, Narayanan said meeting the nutritional profile could be different and the ingredients could also be different.

“That we have the need in India is the reason why we have added this, but at levels which are much lower than what is even specified by the local regulator and I think one has to have the trust and confidence that the local regulator knows what we are putting there. So, it’s not a dramatic deviation that has been done,” he said.

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