What's bad for them is also bad for us

Nestle seems to live by the adage, ‘Different strokes for different folks’. The Swiss NGO Public Eye, and International Baby Food Action Network, found that Nestle baby food products sold in developing countries like India had added sugar content, unlike their products sold in Europe and Britain. This, despite advice from WHO – and an advisory on its own website – against the introduction of added sugars to diets before the age of 2, not to mention a 2022 call for a ban on added sugars and sweeteners in baby food products. Nestle is not alone following the same ‘different sauces for gander and goose’ practice to augment sales.

Nestle is at fault. But so are those – pliant consumers included – allowing companies like it to get away with double standards. This ‘third world’ mentality of letting substandard goods be ‘ok for us’ even as it won’t pass muster ‘with them’, needs to end, especially when our bodies and health are concerned. There is no place any longer for such health and hygiene subjectivism. Food regulators like Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) were aware of the WHO advisory, but looked the other way. In India, the added sugars content is information printed on labels. But FSSAI needs to step up and ensure that the food we consume is healthy, safe, and is indeed what it is sold as.

FSSAI must ensure that food and drink standards are constantly evaluated and updated based on scientific assessment and global health advice. Once incorporated, these standards must be enforced. The exponential growth of the F&B market requires a regulator that is fit for purpose, keeping an ever-watchful eye over the food baskets of an increasingly alert consumer class that cares what it – and its children – ingest.


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