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Nestle’s baby formulas with sugar not sold in Nigeria – NAFDAC

National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control said on Sunday that infant formulas by food and beverage company giant, Nestle, alleged to contain sugar and honey are not sold in Nigeria.

The Agency said such infant formulas are not even registered in the country.

NAFDAC disclosed this in a statement signed by its management.

Swiss investigative organisation, Public Eye, and the International Baby Food Action Network, have in their findings alleged that two of the best-selling baby-food brands marketed by Nestlé in low- and middle-income countries contain high levels of added sugar, while such products are sugar-free in Switzerland, their home country.

Public Eye and IBFAN scrutinised around 150 products sold by Nestle in lower-income countries and found that almost all the Cerelac infant cereals examined contain added sugar – nearly 4 grams per serving on average, equal to roughly a sugar cube – although they are targeted at babies from six months of age. The highest amount – 7.3 grams per serving – was detected in a product sold in the Philippines.

The bodies also said most of the Nido powdered milk products for young children from one to three years old examined also contain added sugar – almost two grams per serving on average. The maximum value (5.3 grams) was detected in a product sold in Panama.

But they added that in Switzerland and Nestlé’s main European markets, such products are sold without added sugar.

But NAFDAC, in a statement titled ‘Nestle adds sugar to infant milk sold in poorer countries: NAFDAC’s response,’ noted that the agency exercises due regulatory diligence in the registration of infant and young children foods distributed and used in Nigeria in line with relevant Codex Alimentarius international food standards, and more specifically, Nigerian Industrial Standards.

The statement read in part, “This applies to all categories of infant and young children foods distributed by manufacturers, importers, and marketers of infant and young children foods operating within Nigeria.

“Adequate, optimal nutrition during infancy and early childhood is essential to ensure the growth, health, and development of children to their full potential.

“The Codex Alimentarius Commission implements the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, developing international food standards, guidelines, and codes of practice with the mandate to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair international food trade. Nigeria (NAFDAC) is an active participant in these international food standards-setting arenas to contribute to Nigeria’s positions during food standards development.

“Regarding the mention of Nido follow-up milk formula in the publication, NAFDAC wishes to state that the product is not registered in Nigeria, is not known to the agency, and is not in circulation in Nigeria.”

The Agency added that the range of Nestle Cerelac infant cereals distributed in Nigeria are duly registered with NAFDAC in line with the NIS for Foods for Infants and Young Children – Processed Cereal Based foods (NIS 256:2010) and the Codex Standard for Processed Cereal-based Foods for Infants and Young Children (CXS 74-1981 adopted in 1981, revised in 2006, amended in 2017, 2019, and 2023), as well as the applicable NAFDAC regulations for compliance with safety, quality, and labeling requirements.

It stated that the scope of the standards covers processed cereal-based foods intended for feeding infants as complementary food from the age of six months.

NAFDAC mentioned that the national and international food standards for processed cereal-based foods for infants and young children permit the addition of sucrose, fructose, glucose, glucose syrup, or honey to products consisting of cereals that are or have to be prepared for consumption with milk or other appropriate nutritious liquids provided the amount of added carbohydrates from these sources shall not exceed the stated levels of 1.8 g/100 kJ (7.5 g/100 kcal); and specifically the maximum level of added fructose shall not exceed 0.9g/100kJ (3.75g/100kcal).

The statement added, “For cereals with an added high protein food which are or have to be prepared for consumption with water or other appropriate protein-free liquid, carbohydrates (if sucrose, fructose, glucose, glucose syrup or honey) are added provided the amount of added carbohydrates from these sources shall not exceed 1.2 g/100 kJ (5g/100 kcal); and specifically the maximum level of added fructose shall not exceed 0.6g/100kJ (2.5g/100kcal).

“It is important to note that carbohydrates are made of building blocks of sugars and can be classified according to how many sugar units are combined in their molecule. Glucose, fructose, and galactose are examples of single-unit sugars, also known as monosaccharides. Double-unit sugars are called disaccharides, among which sucrose (table sugar) and lactose (milk sugar) are the most widely known.

“Infant and young children’s foods are strictly regulated by NAFDAC in recognition of the vulnerability of the target population and measures are in place to monitor and enforce compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and the national regulations Marketing of Infant and Young Children Food and other Designated Products (Registration, Sales, etc.) Regulations.”

NAFDAC therefore reassured all of the safety, wholesomeness, and quality of infant and young children’s foods offered for sale in Nigeria in compliance with the relevant standards and regulations.

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