Pork listed in baby formula alert
A Durban religious leader is urging the community to read the information on product packages after the discovery of pork in a popular baby formula.
A DURBAN religious leader is urging the community to read the information on product packages after the discovery of pork in a popular baby formula.
Ram Maharaj, president of the South African Hindu Dharma Sabha, said it was brought to the organisation’s attention that pork is used in the processing of the Nestlé Nan HA Hypoallergenic Starter Infant Formula.
“It is stated on the package’s nutritional information label that ‘a pork-derived enzyme (trypsin) is used in processing but not contained in the final product’.”
In a letter to Nestlé, Maharaj said though the manufacturer acknowledged pork was used in the processing of their product, “it is our sacred duty and social responsibility to make our Hindu community aware of this fact as your notice is in fine print”.
He said Hindus do not consume pork, pork derivatives or even traces of any pork constituent, in compliance with Hindu philosophy, principles and practices.
“Hindus should boycott the purchasing of the Nestlé Nan HA product. Just like the Muslim and Jewish communities, which have not endorsed the product, it is also unacceptable to the Hindu community. The reality is that people do not usually read small print. Can this not be construed as perhaps a disingenuous way of luring unsuspecting Hindus to buy this NAN product, which may be deemed unacceptable?
“The Sabha cannot and will not allow any manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer or any entity to trample upon Hindu sensitivities with impunity.”
Maharaj said the critical issue of food products inappropriate for Hindu consumption would be dealt with at the Sabha’s national congress in August.
Motshidisi Mokwena, Nestlé SA’s stakeholder relations manager, said their product came in three variants — a starter, follow-up infant formula and a growing-up milk respectively — in which a special process is applied to render the protein in cow’s milk hypoallergenic.
“The hydrolysis process in manufacturing this product involves the use of the enzyme trypsin, which is a by-product of insulin sourced from pork, to hydrolyse the protein in the product, reducing the allergenicity.
“Through several other processes, the trypsin is deactivated and not physically present in the final product. Due to the sensitive nature (of this issue), we have taken the initiative and the responsibility to educate and inform our consumers accordingly about the ingredients that make up the final product. We cannot communicate directly to mothers on the products. However, we have engaged health-care professionals to do that as well as to put communication up in the trade asking them to consult the packaging for more information.
“We have neither halaal nor kosher logos on those specific brands. On the tin, in line with the law, we have indicated that it does contain pork. We understand that where there is no logo for either of the organisations, consumers need to be able to refer to the ingredients list so they can make an informed decision,” said Mokwena.
She added that Nestlé was aware of the diversity and sensitivities around dietary requirements for various communities.
First-time mother Dr Ashnie Maharaj said there was a need to educate parents on their options for infant formula use.
“As a homeopath and Ayurveda consultant, I strongly advocate the ‘breast-feeding is best’ policy. However, some moms may opt to use hydrolysed formulas for infants who are prone to allergies.
“I was shocked when I read the label on the Nan HA tin because as a Hindu I do not consume pork. I later did some research and now make use, when I cannot breastfeed my nine-month-old, of a hydrolysed formula that is halaal and kosher and does not use any pork in its manufacturing process,” said Maharaj.