ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena took Nestle head on Sunday as he asked the multinational to reduce the sugar content in its popular Milo drink or face tougher legislation.
Holding up a carton of Milo, the President said he will tour the country campaigning against its consumption unless Nestle agreed to reduce the sugar content in Milo to below five percent from its current 16.5 percent.
He also asked Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera to extend the sugar tax on soft drinks to all forms of sweetened beverages. The 2018 budget slapped a 50 cent tax on each gram of sugar in soft drinks with effect from Thursday night.
Launching a walk at Galle Face to mark the World Diabetic Day which falls on Tuesday, President Sirisena said he was proposing a month-long island-wide campaign to discourage sugar consumption.
High consumption of candy and sweetened drinks and beverages have been linked to, among other things, obesity, weight gain, diabetes and even heart disease.
The President said the excess sugar intake was a key cause of diabetes affecting just over 10 percent of the country's 21 million population. Another 21 percent were at a high risk of developing diabetes.
Sirisena accused Nestle of increasing the sugar content in Milo in the past five years.
"Around 2012 when I visited their factory, I noticed this drink had 15 percent sugar, but today I notice it is 16.5 percent," Sirisena said showing the Milo carton to the audience.
"I want them to reduce it to five percent. Otherwise we will bring legislation to control the sugar content in all beverages." He did not set them a deadline for the Swiss multi-national to cut down on sugar. (COLOMBO, November 12, 2017)