Nestlé Defends Decision To Label MILO As "Healthy" Following Sugar Content Controversy

A viral video recently alleged that the malt beverage is made up of 40% sugar.

Cover image via Klick / Vishen Lakhiani Facebook

A video alleging that MILO contains excessive sugar content has been spreading like wildfire on social media, leading to many Malaysians questioning the legitimacy of the beverage's "healthy" label

The video, uploaded by Mindvalley founder Vishen Lakhiani (above), pointed out that the product's packaging indicated there are 40g of sugar for every 100g of MILO. Hence, he questioned if the beverage was indeed as "healthy" as Nestle (MILO's parent company) claimed it to be.

Vishen's video was inspired by a New York Times article highlighting corporate partnerships between multinational processed food companies, such as Nestle, with Malaysian nutritionists and researchers who are known to influence consumer habits

The Swiss food giant has since responded to the claims, saying that the allegations are inaccurate. In a statement, Nestlé Malaysia's senior nutritionist explained that the recommended serving of Milo only contains six percent sugar.

Image via NSTP

Quoting Nestlé Malaysia senior nutritionist Nurul Illiani Ahmad, the statement outlined that MILO in its powder form contains milk, malt, cocoa, and sugar.

"The recommended preparation is to add five teaspoons of Milo into 200ml of hot water. This one serving contains only 6 percent sugar. Out of the 6 percent, 3 percent is natural sugar from milk and malt, while the other 3 percent is added sugar," she said, adding that the 40g of sugar shown on the nutritional label refers to MILO powder before water is added

Similar points were reiterated at a press conference organised by the Muslim Consumers' Association (PPIM) yesterday, in which Nestlé also defended the company's decision to brand the product as "healthy"

Image via Klick

Referring to the 40 percent sugar content in MILO powder, Nestlé's head of halal affairs Othman Mohd Yusof explained that "20 percent is from milk lactose and another 20 percent is from the malt". 

Assuming consumers follow the recommended serving of mixing five teaspoons of MILO powder to 200ml water, Othman explained that the sugar would have been diluted to six percent. 

At the press conference, PPIM also urged the Ministry of Health (MOH) to state its position on whether MILO is "healthy", as some of its packaging carries a red sticker proclaiming it as a "pilihan lebih sihat" (healthier choice)

According to Malaysiakini, PPIM legal bureau head Hishamuddin Hasim also said that usage of the word "healthy" should be regulated, similar to how the "halal" label is used.

"We (consumers) are not scientists, we do not go to the laboratory nor check the analysed data. When the word 'healthy' is seen, regardless whether it is in the form of music or ticket, consumers will think it is confirmed healthy,' he added, pointing out that MILO also uses the "healthy" label as part of its wider advertising exercise. 

What is your stance in the controversy surrounding MILO's sugar content? Share your opinions on the issue in the comments section below.

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