The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

Calls for mandatory front-of-pack warning labels on infant food products

 Many countries have passed laws requiring mandatory FOPWLs. [iStockphoto]

Health and civil society organisations are calling on the government to formulate and implement a mandatory front-of-pack warning labels (FOPWLs) policy on infant food products sold in the country.

This follows reports by Public Eye, a non-partisan, independent investigative organisation based in Switzerland, that indicated that Nestle applies a “double standard” in sugar levels contained in its ‘Cerelac' baby food product.

According to the report, the baby cereal sold in Switzerland contains no added sugar. However, a serving of the same product distributed in Senegal and South Africa has 6 grams of added sugar.

Responding to the allegations, Nestle said via its website:  “We have reduced the sugar in many of our infant cereals. While there are added sugars in some, we are making progress towards reducing this further, as well as providing more options without added sugar.”

According to local and international activists, this disparity is fueling obesity among infants and needs to be curbed.

“We strongly advocate for the urgent implementation of evidence-based mandatory FOPWLs in Kenya. By providing clear and accessible information about the sugar content in food products, the Ministry of Health can empower parents to make healthier choices and protect children's health from the dangers of excessive sugar consumption. It's imperative that we prioritise the health of our children,” said Celine Awuor, CEO of the International Institute for Legislative Affairs (IILA).

Many countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Israel, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, have passed laws requiring mandatory FOPWLs.

South Africa's ongoing endeavours to implement Front-of-Pack Warning Labels (FOPWL) highlight a broader regional dedication among African countries to promote public health policies that prioritise consumer well-being.

According to activists, these labels are effective in helping consumers identify products high in harmful ingredients like sugar, sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat, and improve awareness of the health risks associated with these foods and beverages.

“It serves as a call to action for the Kenyan government to step forward and protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable, from the harmful effects of excessive sugar consumption,” she added.

There are several types of front-of-pack labelling, but studies from around the world have shown that the most effective are warning labels that appear on the front package and state that a product is “high in” or has “excessive” amounts of ingredients that are considered harmful.

Prioritising the implementation of FOPWLs, Awuor said, would not only hold companies like Nestlé and other multinationals accountable for their actions but would also protect the health and well-being of Kenya's children.

She also added that the time for action is now, and mandatory evidence-based FOPWLs can play a significant role in safeguarding children's health in Kenya.

“These warning labels will offer clear and accessible information to consumers about the sugar content in food products, empowering them to make healthier choices for themselves and their families. By implementing FOPWLs, the Ministry of Health can take proactive steps to safeguard children's health and equip parents with the information they need to protect their child’s future,” she concluded.

Excessive sugar consumption during childhood is associated with numerous health issues, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

In the ongoing global dialogue about childhood obesity and its underlying causes, attention has turned to the practices of major food companies.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has emphasised the importance of limiting sugar intake to prevent these conditions.

Related Topics


Trending Now


Popular this week