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11 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 11 March, 2018 04:30:13 PM
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Questions arise over Milo health benefits

FAISAL MAHMUD
Questions arise over
Milo health benefits

Milo, a drink meant for children, is proven to be not so beneficial for health -- as it is marketed so by its producer Nestle in a recent development in its country of origin, Australia. After this new finding, the multinational food giant has recently bowed to pressure and announced it would remove the controversial 4.5 health star rating splashed on Milo. Nestle was accused of manipulating the system and “health washing” the sugary product. On its own, Milo scored a paltry 1.5 stars instead of 4.5 stars in Australian health star rating system (HSR).

As Milo has a considerable market in Bangladesh, The Independent approached a spokesperson from Nestle Bangladesh, who said the company now doesn’t market Milo in Bangladesh, hence it has “nothing to say” on this matter.

The Independent checked the product list of Nestle Bangladesh and found that it markets Milo under its ‘Breakfast Cereals” category.

When asked about it, the Nestle spokesperson said, Australia only removes 4.5 stars under its HSR system on Milo branded “chocolate and malt-based powder,” not on other products like Milo branded breakfast cereals or Milo ready-to-drink milk.

The spokesperson confirmed that Nestle Bangladesh “no longer produces Milo chocolate and malt-based powder here in Bangladesh.”

Interestingly Nestle Bangladesh in January 23, 1998, had invested nearly Tk 15 crore at that time for a new plant and building in Sreepur—some 55 kilometers away from Dhaka— in where Nestle announced to produce Milo malt-based powder.

Earlier, from 1990, Transcom Ltd had begun marketing Milo malt-based power after importing it. A number of television commercials (TVC) were also made at that time as the product became popular.

The Independent asked Nestle Bangladesh “why it stopped producing Milo malt-based powder here in Bangladesh”, but the Nestle spokesperson could not give any satisfactory answer to that saying they “have to further check on the matter.”

At present even though Milo malt based power is not produced in Bangladesh, about 15 importers import Milo malt-based chocolate powder in Bangladesh and market those.

When contacted, officials from National Food Products—an importer of Milo powder —told The Independent that they import it from Australia and sell that in Bangladesh market and they are not in a position to determine its real “health benefits.”

In Australia, Milo’s high health-star rating was based on the guidelines that Australians consume just three teaspoons of Milo with a glass of skim milk.

“To claim a health star rating by adding nutritionally superior ingredients of another product is not helpful, especially for people who drink their Milo with full cream milk, or even straight out of the can or on ice-cream,” said Katinka Day, Head of Campaigns and Policy of Choice—Australia’s leading advocacy group.

She said when people see a chocolate-based powdered product that is high in sugar carrying a 4.5-star rating, “they rightfully question health star ratings,” said Day.

Talking with The Independent, Ishaq Ali, Director of Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) said, they do not have any facility to test and standardize the health benefit of products like Milo.

He admitted that malt-based power products are practically getting a free run in Bangladesh as these do not get standardized.

“We have long been planning to establish lab facility and instrument to standardize these products,” he said, adding that a number of enquiries were made to the BSTI about Horlicks, another popular malt-based powdered product produced by Glaxosmithkline Bangladesh Ltd (GSK). Ishaq said BSTI is taking this matter seriously and will try to make it compulsory for all the malt-based products to get BSTI certification before getting into the market.

Golam Rahman, president of Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB), told The Independent that BSTI is standardizing over 150 products despite its severe limitation. “It’s hard for them to add new products with their current capacity and we are aware of it.”

But, he said, Milo and other malt-based powder products are consumed mostly by the children. “So the BSTI should take immediate steps to check and standardize these products,” Rahman added.

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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