EXCLUSIVE: Nestlé responds to claims of selling ‘substandard’ baby formula
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JOHANNESBURG - The Changing Markets Foundation, a UK-based company founded to "expose irresponsible corporate practices and drive change towards a more sustainable economy," accused Nestlé South Africa of selling "substandard" baby formula in a published report.
The foundation further accused Nestlé of using nutritional science as a fallacious marketing tool as opposed to applying it consistently across all its products.
The Changing Markets Foundation's findings have been reported in multiple South African publications.
Researchers at the Changing Markets Foundation, who released the Busting the Myth of Science-based Formula report, investigated over 70 infant milk formulas, sold in 40 different countries for babies under 12 months old; with the aim of determining whether the company’s self-proclaimed commitment to science was indeed verifiable.
The foundation released the following research it found in the South African market:
- Sugar’s sweet for SA: "On the label of products sold in Brazil and Hong Kong the company advises parents against giving sucrose to infants‚ while two Nestlé infant milks in SA were found to contain the ingredient."
- Flipping on flavourings: "Nestlé’s infant milks sold in Hong Kong are marketed as healthier for not having ‘any added vanilla flavour or flavourings for baby’s good growth’, but we found several Nestlé products that contain vanilla flavouring in SA.
The report also claims that Nestlé has a strategy to increase its profits by trying to convince parents to buy more expensive products in the belief these are better for their child’s health.
Nusa Urbancic of the Changing Markets Foundation said: "While companies claim that their products are informed by the ‘latest developments in nutritional science’, the wide variety of products on sale within and between countries and the efforts of companies to push expensive premium products call such claims into question".
Nestlé is the only company that sells products in all of the 14 markets investigated‚ with a total of 165 products.
Speaking to Business Report, Nestlé spokesperson, Ravi Pillay said: ‘’We welcome constructive external views regarding our operations and always investigate concerns raised. The Changing Markets Foundation report on infant formula raises some important points. We have invited the CMF for a dialogue with us to discuss these and to allow us to clarify some of the inaccuracies included in the findings.
"Contrary to the report’s claims that we use sucrose and vanilla flavouring in some infant formula products, we do not use sucrose in any of our products for infants (0-6 months) and we are voluntarily eliminating sucrose from all other follow-on formula products (6-12 months), which will be completed before the end of 2018 for this age range. As of today, it is present in less than ten percent of our recipes for this age range".
Nestlé stressed its commitment to supporting breastfeeding, "as recommended by the World Health Organizatio (WHO), and to protect it through our industry-leading policy to market breast-milk substitutes (BMS) responsibly."
"We welcome the recognition in the CMF report of the important role that infant formula plays in providing adequate nutrition where this is the case.
We agree that formula manufacturers have a responsibility to provide products that are safe and as nutritionally complete as possible, and to ensure their composition is strictly informed by the best available science" Pillay said.
* This is a developing story
- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE