Nestlé defends the formulation of its baby milk

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Milk

Nestlé has hit back at a Chinese consumer who brought about a
lawsuit disputing that the Swiss food giant's infant formula is not
made from whole milk. The action is a particularly sensitive issue
in light of this year's baby food poisoning scandal, of which
Nestle had no involvement.

According to a Beijing Morning Post report, the lawsuit was bought about by a Chinese citizen, Sun Guosheng, from Central Henan Province. He is claiming that the infant formula's primary ingredients - skim milk and vegetable oil - are not in line with the impression that the product is largely a whole milk product.

The newspaper report said that Sun was suing for 1RMB (€0.09) in compensation, with the hearing due to take place in the courts at the beginning of January.

Nestlé China responded in a statement by saying it 'strongly refuted' Sun's claims and that it would take action against any false claims.

"It is unsubstantiated, groundless, and deliberately harming Nestle's reputation,"​ the statement said.

The company pointed out that it deliberately used skim milk in its infant formula because whole milk is considered to contain too much protein for young babies to digest. It also said that added fatty acids, minerals and vitamins were a necessary addition to create a balanced nutritional content.

The allegations come in the wake of the baby food poisoning scandal that affected a number of provinces in the North-eastern regions of China that came to light in April of this year.

The infant formula, which tests later proved to contain little more than starch and water and had virtually no nutritional value, was manufactured by around 100 factories in Heilongjiang Province at the beginning of the year. Officials believe that at least 60 tons of the powder was produced and distributed to local retailers under a leading brand name.

As well as the 13 deaths, some 189 babies were taken ill with severe malnutrition. One of the side affects was a swelling of the affected babies' heads, which led some parents to believe that their infants were thriving on the formula.

Nestlé​ currently has a clear market lead throughout Asia, and in China its baby products are generally regarded as premium brands, a position that the company is keen to protect.

"We are not planning to profit from the misfortunes of others but we will make a big effort to ensure products are of the highest quality,"​ said a company spokesman Francois-Xavier Perroud back in April. "In particular we have been fighting very hard to avoid instances of mislabeling which is obviously damaging for our brands. We believe that parents in China tend to trust established brand and Nestlé intends to continue to benefit from this trust."

Chinese authorities have cracked down hard in response to the fake baby formula scandal. Indeed, not only has it pointed the finger at infant formula manufacturers and retailers, it has even gone to the lengths of investigating local government officials. So far some 97 officials have been arrested for corruption and sentencing is expected to be harsh as an example.

Related topics: Ingredients, Fresh Milk

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