Nestlé acknowledges that 60 percent of its products are unhealthy

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Nestlé recognizes that 60 percent of its products are not healthy, nor can they ever be. So says the global food giant, according to the Financial Times, which reveals that it had access to an internal multinational company document released in early 2021, focusing on possible initiatives to counter the obesity epidemic and meet the demand for healthier foods.

Nestlé and the mea culpa on junk food

Nestlé’s considerations are based, according to the Financial Times, on the definition of ‘health food’ codified by the
Health Star Rating System
, a nutritional rating system for foods devised in Australia and adoptable on a voluntary basis.

The math is soon done. The Australian system contemplates an increasing rating range from half a star to 5 stars. And only 37 percent of products from Nestlé-owned brands achieve 3.5 stars.

Nestlé’s nutritional mediocrity.

Nutritional mediocrity affects 96 percent of beverages, 99 percent of confectionery and ice cream, 82 percent of flavored waters, and 60 percent of dairy products, according to Nestlé.

A disaster, considering that the analysis does not take into account pet food, infant formula, coffee and dietary supplements. More or less the products that make half of the multinational company’s sales.

Insufficient efforts

The result of the survey disappoints Nestlé’s top management, which has been trying to improve its products in recent years. Without great results.

In 2018, the Dutch NGO Access to Nutrition Initiative recognized the multinational company’s commitment to improving its products. But it also showed very wide margins for improvement.

‘It is estimated that Nestlé derives only 19 percent of its total sales from healthy products. These results show that Nestlé has ample scope to improve the healthiness of its portfolio through product reformulation, innovation, and/or portfolio changes’,(Access to Nutrition Initiative, Global Index 2018).

Incurable products

The multinational company’s ‘confidential’ document refers to exemplary products as the cause of the rampant epidemic of obesity and non-communicable diseases. Horrors not marketed in Italy, such as an overgrown pizza(DiGiorno) with 40 percent of the daily amount of sodium or strawberry-flavored Nesquik, loaded with sugars, dyes and flavorings, but advertised as‘perfect for breakfast and to get children ready for the day.’

But also soft drinks and packaged foods widely available on our shelves. Like products with palm oil: from Buitoni pizza bases to Kit Kat snacks. Or San Pellegrino brand orange or chinotto-flavored carbonated soft drinks, which provide 20-25g of sugar per glass. That is, the entire daily intake recommended by the WHO, which recommends reducing the intake of simple sugars below 5 percent of daily energy requirements from food. That is, 25 grams of sugar in the average adult’s daily diet (2000 kcal/day).

Unsalvageable products and nutrition policies

Nestlé’s food products-as well as those of other Big Food giants-are unsalvageable by their own admission. The junk-food business is incompatible with the health and well-being called for in the third of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in UN Agenda 2030.

No wonder industry corporations fund ‘cushy’ nutrition studies, nor do they obstruct nutrition and public health policies (1,2). The only question remains how consumAtors can still tolerate all this POP, #ProfitOverPeople.

Marta Strinati

Notes

(1) Marta Strinati. Nutrition research diverted by Big Food lobbies. New study. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 27.1.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/ricerca-nutrizionale-deviata-dalle-lobby-di-big-food-nuovo-studio

(2) Marta Strinati, Dario Dongo. Nutrition and health, here’s how Big Food thwarts WHO. GIFT(Great Italian Food Trade). 3.9.20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/nutrizione-e-salute-ecco-come-big-food-ostacola-l-oms

Marta Strinati

Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".