From baby food to Maggi noodles: A look back at Nestle controversies

(Compiled by Aparna Sajinath) | Reuters Photo

1. Added sugar in baby food:

Recent reports of an investigation conducted by a Swiss organisation, the Public Eye, have sparked a new controversy for the Nestle Group. As per the reports, a high content of added sugar has been found after the examination of products supplied in developing nations.

Unlike the sugar-free products sold in Europe, the products sold in India, Africa and other developing nations are tested for sugar content, which is harmful to babies.

2. Maggi ban in India:

In June 2015, Maggi was banned in India after finding the presence of high levels of MSG (monosodium glutamate) and lead, which were 17 times higher than the permissible limit. The pack contained the ‘No MSG’ label, which the company later agreed to remove.

An FIR was registered against Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta for endorsing the brand.  

3. Child labour allegations:

In 2021, the Nestle group was accused of child labour and exploitation. Eight former child labourers sued the company for being involved in the illegal exploitation and enslavement of children on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. They also claimed that they were forced and beaten to work without pay. (Representational image)

4. Withdrawal of the Hindu KitKat range:

In 2022, Nestle launched a limited range of KitKat in India that featured images of Hindu deities on the packaging. However, the company was forced to withdraw this range after facing accusations of hurting the religious sentiments of the community.

People argued that the wrappers might be thrown in bins or trampled underfoot, which is disrespectful to the gods and the Hindu faith.

5. Boycott in the United States:

Nestle was accused of promoting its infant formula by discouraging breastfeeding. Their aggressive marketing of infant formulas led to their boycott in the US in 1977. This ban was lifted in 1984 after the company agreed to comply with the WHO’s infant formula sales code. | Reuters