Nestlé, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, has faced several controversies over the years. Here are eight major concerns in India and abroad.

Nestlé Controversies: Unveiling Ethical Concerns in India and Abroad

Added Sugar in Baby Food for Developing Countries

Recent scrutiny reveals Nestlé’s inclusion of sugar and honey in infant milk and cereal products sold in developing countries, contrasting with sugar-free products in Switzerland. The Guardian reported that all Cerelac baby cereal products examined in India contained added sugar, averaging nearly three grams per serving. Nestlé India responded, stating a reduction of up to 30 percent in added sugars across its infant cereal range over the past five years.

Backlash Over Unhealthy Food Portfolio

An internal presentation revealed that 60 percent of Nestlé’s mainstream food and beverage range did not meet recognized health standards. While Nestlé announced plans to update its nutrition and health strategy and review its product lineup, concerns remain over unhealthy offerings.

Maggi Noodles Banned in India

In 2015, Maggi noodles were banned in India after tests revealed the presence of lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG) beyond permissible limits. The withdrawal severely impacted Nestle India, with Maggi’s market share plummeting from 80 percent to zero.

Boycott in the US for Discouraging Breastfeeding

Nestlé faced accusations of discouraging breastfeeding to promote its baby formula in the United States, sparking a boycott that persisted until 1984 when Nestle agreed to adhere to an international marketing code endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Child Slave Labour Accusations

In 2021, Nestlé faced legal action over allegations of child slave labor on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. However, a US District Court dismissed the case in 2022 for lack of standing to sue.

Exploiting Drought-Ridden Areas

Criticism mounted over Nestlé’s water bottling practices, particularly in drought-prone regions like California. Nestlé’s extraction of water from the San Bernardino National Forest since 1988 drew significant backlash.

Among the World’s Top Plastic Polluters

Nestlé’s packaging practices contributed to plastic pollution, with concerns raised over their approach to plastic waste management.

Contaminating Groundwater

Nestlé faced accusations of groundwater exploitation in Pakistan, leading to sinking water levels and contamination. Forensic audits revealed significant water wastage, contradicting management’s assertions.


These controversies have significantly tarnished Nestlé’s reputation, highlighting ethical concerns in its business practices both in India and abroad. Despite efforts to address some issues, Nestlé continues to face criticism and calls for greater transparency and accountability.

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