Updated April 18th, 2024 at 16:22 IST

Nestlé Under FSSAI Scrutiny Over High Sugar Content in Baby Food, Shares Fall Over 5%

Nestlé allegedly sweetens its Cerelac cereals and Nido milk formulas with sugar in countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Reported by: Business Desk
Nestlé sugar content investigation | Image:Nestlé India

Nestlé sugar row: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has reportedly taken cognisance of allegations against Nestlé India over high levels of sugar content in its Cerelac baby food products. 

The country's food quality and safety watchdog is examining the allegations against the Switzerland-based multinational consumer goods company, news agency ANI reported, quoting sources.


The allegations against Nestlé were made by Public Eye, a Switzerland-based NGO, as part of its investigation along with  International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). Findings of the probe suggest that Nestlé's Cerelac products in India contain an average of 3 grams of added sugar per serving, despite stringent guidelines by the World Health Organisation (WHO) banning added sugars in baby food products.

"Double standards" of Nestlé 

Public Eye's investigation reveals that Nestlé sweetens its Cerelac cereals and Nido milk formulas with sugar and honey in countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, targeting babies as young as six months old. Shockingly, the report highlights a double standard in Nestlé's product offerings, with Cerelac being sugar-free in wealthier nations like Switzerland, Germany, and the UK. In contrast, some Cerelac products in countries like Ethiopia and Thailand contain nearly 6 grams of added sugar per serving. This disparity in sugar content has raised questions about Nestlé's marketing strategies and compliance with global health standards.

Nestlé's response

In an emailed response to Republic Business' queries, Nestlé India spokesperson said, “We would like to assure you that our Infant Cereal products, are manufactured to ensure the appropriate delivery of nutritional requirements such as Protein, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Minerals, Iron etc. for early childhood. We never compromise and will never compromise on the nutritional quality of our products. We constantly leverage our extensive Global Research and Development network to enhance the nutritional profile of our products.”

“Compliance is an essential characteristic of  Nestlé India and we will never compromise on that. We also ensure that our 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. Nestlé India is committed to delivering the best nutrition to our consumers, which we have been doing for  over 100 years and would always maintain highest standards of Nutrition, Quality and Safety in our products.”


"Over the past 5 years, Nestlé India has reduced added sugars by up to 30 per cent, depending on the variant, in our infant cereals portfolio (milk cereal based complementary food)," the statement added.

Health concerns

Health experts have expressed concerns over Nestlé's alleged practice of adding sugar to baby food products, highlighting the risks of excessive sugar consumption at an early age. Rodrigo Vianna, an epidemiologist and professor, warned that adding sugar to baby food is unnecessary and highly addictive, increasing the risk of nutrition-based disorders in later life. Critics argue that Nestlé's aggressive marketing tactics in low- and middle-income countries exploit weaker regulations to boost sales, potentially jeopardizing the health of vulnerable populations.

Market Impact

Following the news, Nestlé India shares witnessed a decline, falling by 5.32% to an intraday low of Rs 2,410.6 apiece on the National Stock Exchange.


Published April 18th, 2024 at 16:04 IST