The online criticism started when Vishen Lakhiani, founder and CEO of technology company Mindvalley, posted the YouTube video “The food industry is lying to you about health & nutrition — here's why”.
In his video, Lakhiani attacked various Nestlé products and criticised them for being marketed as healthy, including powdered Milo, which he claimed comprised 40% sugar.
On his Facebook page alone, the video has garnered over 9,500 reactions, 18,000 shares, 820,000 views and 1,700 comments.
Nestlé Malaysia responded on social media thanking customers for the “alert” and said that the company was aware of the video.
“The facts in this video are clearly misleading,” said Nestlé Malaysia.
“We take our responsibility to produce great tasting, nutritious products very seriously.”
Vitamins and minerals
Nestlé Malaysia further clarified that Milo is made with milk, malt (barley) and cocoa powder and contains vitamins and minerals including Vitamins B2, B3, B6 and C.
“Over 50% of the total sugars in Milo naturally come from milk and malt. We keep the amount of sugar we add to a minimum — adding only 6g of sugar for every 200ml serving, which is about one teaspoon of sugar,” the company added.
Lakhiani responded to that with a second video, going further to break down the ingredients found in several Nestlé products.
Said Lakhiani: “Behind each Milo tin, it states add three teaspoons of Milo. Three teaspoons of Milo is roughly 9g of sugar.”
He further claimed that the amount of sugar in a glass of Milo is about 20g, which is close to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) daily recommended amount of 25g.
He called for Nestlé to be “truthful” in its message.
The second video currently has over 6,900 reactions, 12,000 shares, 322,000 views and 1,200 comments.
Milo responded to the second video with a statement from nutritionist Nurul Iliani Ahmad, who said: “Milo contains only 6% of sugar — out of which 3% is natural sugar from milk and malt — per recommended serving of five teaspoons of Milo with 200ml of hot water.
“We encourage consumers to prepare Milo with powdered milk or water as part of a balanced diet.”
Nurul also reiterated that Milo has beneficial components such as Activ-Go, a combination of vitamin B2, B3, B6, B12 for efficient release of energy, as well as Vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, iron and protein, among other healthy ingredients.
Still, the online debate has not abated. In recent days, Milo Malaysia has been posting on its Facebook page “What can be found in Milo”, yet again clarifying its contents and recommended consumption methods.
A Nestlé Malaysia spokesperson told FoodNavigator-Asia, “Please allow us to assure you that we are fully committed towards the highest standards of ethical business conduct and transparency. We take our responsibility to produce great tasting, nutritious products very seriously and are committed to enabling healthier lives.”
As to whether Nestlé Malaysia would be taking legal action against Lakhiani, she responded: “Our main focus has always been our consumers, our products and ensuring our consumers have the correct and accurate facts on Milo, not private opinions of third parties.”
Previously, Nestlé Lanka had to defend itself after Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena publicly attacked the company, claiming it had increased the sugar content in a Milo pack from 15% in 2012 to 16.5% today.
Nestlé Lanka refuted his claims, saying that it has reduced added sugar (sucrose) in Milo Ready-To-Drink (RTD) by 32% and, currently, a pack contains less than 5% of added sugar.