BPOM Responds to Reports of Nestle’s Unhealthy Food Portfolio

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Jakarta. The National Food and Drug Monitoring Agency, or BPOM, has responded to the unhealthy food portfolio controversy surrounding the world’s largest fast moving consumer goods company Nestle, by saying the report is unrelated to the products’ quality and safety.

Nestle has found itself in hot water after Financial Times came across an internal company presentation. The document acknowledged that more than 60 percent of its F&B products fail to meet the recognized health norms, according to Financial Times.

The news has raised concerns on whether the Nestle products in Indonesia are safe for consumption. BPOM is also facing pressure left and right —including from the Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI)— to conduct an investigation. 

“Regarding the report of the unhealthy food products, it is unrelated to food and safety,” BPOM wrote in a press statement on Tuesday.

“The report is related to its nutritional facts —particularly sugar, salt, and fat content— as a risk factor for a non-communicable disease if consumed excessively,” they said. 

A 2019 BPOM regulation requires producers to slap nutrition facts labels on their products so people can make better food choices. There is also the international Codex guideline on nutrition labeling.

“To make it more understandable to the Indonesian public, in addition to a nutrition fact table, [producers] can include information on a daily nutrition guide and the voluntary healthier choice logo,” BPOM said.

The report in the Financial Times also uses Australia’s health star rating system. “The health star rating model, which has certain nutritional requirements and assigns a rating from half to five stars, is implemented in Australia and New Zealand,” BPOM added.

In their statement, BPOM highlighted they have done thorough evaluations before giving their green light for Nestle. 

“BPOM has evaluated the safety, quality, nutrition and label, as well as the nutrition labeling, when giving distribution license numbers for processed food products, including the Nestle products circulating in Indonesia.”

The supervisory agency has also carried out sampling and testing on the products to ensure that the circulating products still meet the standards.

“BPOM and stakeholders continue to encourage the public to read labels, including the nutritional facts, to prevent non-communicable disease and have a balanced diet in accordance with the 2014 Health Ministry regulation on balanced nutrition guidelines,” they said.

Late last month, Financial Times reported that according to the internal document, only 37 percent of Nestle’s food and beverages by revenues score above 3.5 stars under Australia’s health rating system.

The calculation, however, excluded items such as pet food and specialized medical nutrition.

“Nestle, the maker of KitKats, Maggi noodles and Nescafe, describes the 3.5 star threshold as a ‘recognized definition of health’,” Financial Times wrote.

It’s Less Than 30 Percent

Nestle Indonesia —the company’s local arm— claimed the report only covered half of the global sales. The analysis also did not include baby and infant formula, special nutrients, pet food, and coffee products.

“If we take a look at the global portfolio, less than 30 percent do not meet the stringent external ‘health’ standards and [these] are mostly indulgent products like chocolate and ice cream,” Nestle Indonesia wrote on their official website Monday.

“When consumed in moderation, they can be part of a healthy, balanced, and enjoyable diet.”



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