Thursday, April 18, 2013

Badvertising: Nestlé Calls Vitamin Spiked Nesquik Plus "Medicinal", Provides "Dose" for Kids

Want more proof corporations don't give one hoot about your health?

Look no further than Nestlé's Nesquik Plus. It's quite literally vitamin fortified chocolate syrup, and it's being marketing to parents as a means to improve the health of their children.

Nestlé is the largest largest food corporation in the world. As such what it does can fairly be considered representative of the food industry as a whole.  The fact that this product exists, let alone Nestlé's marketing of it as containing "medicinal ingredients" replete with "dosage" recommendations and health and function claims, I'd argue is proof positive that the only thing that concerns the food industry are profits.

So who's this product aimed at? Here's copy from Nestlé's 2011 product announcement,
"Enhanced with Vitamins B2, B6, B9, B12, C, D, E, Calcium and Iron and made with less sugar, NESQUIK PLUS is ideal for moms who are concerned about their kids’ diets as it adds even more nutrients to a glass of milk"
Because what could be healthier than multiple daily "doses" of Nesquik Plus where each "dose" contains 3 teaspoons of vitamin-fortified-sugar goodness?

Click on the image to see the "Recommended Dosage" and the "Medicinal Ingredients"
What's also fascinating is that the product is currently being sold on Canadian supermarket shelves. My understanding was that the discretionary fortification of food (the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods at the discretion of the food manufacturer) wasn't in fact legal in Canada, let alone the discretionary fortification of frickin' chocolate syrup.

A few days ago the Canadian government launched a new healthy living program. In the launch video Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq states,
"Today I am pleased to announce that we are building on the momentum of the national Eat Well campaign that helps parents and children adopt healthier eating habits"
Carla Ventin the VP of Federal Government Affairs for the food industry's representative organization Food and Consumer Products of Canada in that same presser stated,
"This is a really important campaign for Canadians because what it does is improve the awareness and provide tools to consumers so that they can make better choices at the grocery stores for their families"
So here's my thought.  Rather than simply improving awareness and providing tools that I sincerely doubt more than 0.1% of Canadians will actually access and utilize, maybe a smarter choice would be to prevent companies like Nestlé from preying on parents with products like "medicinal" chocolate syrup and actually create and police robust labeling laws that in turn wouldn't put the onus on Canadians to carefully investigate each and every product they buy for bullshit? Or maybe at the very, very least, create laws that would deny the food industry the ability to literally add vitamins to candy as a marketing ploy?

Seems to me that the one of the main reasons we might need these campaigns is because either way our government has dropped the ball on protecting Canadian supermarket shoppers from the food industry, and this product's a great example. If Nesquik Plus is actually legal then I'd argue the government truly doesn't give the tiniest of craps for the parents its Eat Well campaign purports to champion. If it's not legal, then they're doing a piss poor job of policing the shelves as according to Nestlé the product's been duping Canadian parents since October 23rd, 2011.

[Hat tip to my undergrad classmate and now stellar intensivist Dr. Hy Dwosh for snapping and sending me the photos]