A new report launched today by Changing Markets Foundation has claimed that Unilever has failed to keep to its own global commitments on nutrition. The case study investigated nutrition levels in Unilever’s product Maizena.
Unilever is currently ranked second in the 2018 Access to Nutrition Index – which evaluates industry’s policies on nutrition – with its voluntary initiative on fortifying affordable products in countries where malnutrition is prevalent.
Research carried out by the Changing Markets Foundation in partnership with Proyecto Alimente and ContraPESO, has determined that Unilever is not fortifying its Maizena Natural cornflour in Mexico despite claims that all its cornflour products in Latin America are fortified.
Micronutrient deficiencies have been recognised as a major public health problem in Mexico, resulting in a law enforcement in 2002. The legislation established the mandatory fortification of all wheat and maize flours available for sale in Mexico as an attempt to combat malnutrition.
The recent study tested 84 samples of Maizena products readily available in Mexico and then compared the results to information gathered from the Maizena Mexico website and Maizena product labels.
According to the report, the findings revealed that the Maizena flavoured atole cornflour products did not consistently contain the levels of micronutrients displayed on its labels, in particular iron and zinc. It also pointed out that Unilever had confirmed in the 1990’s that its cornflour products were ‘enriched with vitamins and minerals’.
Concerns were also raised about the lack of information provided by Unilever on the iron source used in its products, as variable sources provide different nutritional value.
Alice Delemare Tangpuori from the Changing Markets Foundation said: “Unilever claims to be committed to addressing micronutrient malnutrition around the world, however this report shows that the company is failing to translate these commitments into practice.
“Unilever must explain why its natural cornflour product is unfortified, seemingly in direct contrast to its global communications on fortification, and why the levels of iron and zinc in its atole products do not appear to match the levels stated on the packaging.
“The company has ambitions to provide more than 200 billion product servings with at least one of the five key micronutrients by 2022, but if Unilever is serious about addressing micronutrient deficiencies and increasing its customers’ consumption of essential vitamins and minerals, it must take action to resolve the glaring inconsistencies in implementing its public commitments.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019