Jakarta. Indonesia is introducing a ban on marketing condensed milk and its derivatives as milk, as misleading advertisements contribute to the country's obesity problem among children.
Parents often give condensed milk to infants as a cheaper alternative to formula milk. It appears the practice has been encouraged by commercials showing mothers serving the product to their children.
The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) in a circular letter dated May 22 called on all producers and distributors to refrain from these deceptive marketing strategies. The directive also bans showing the ads to kids below the age of five or using the product in TV programs for children.
Condensed milk producers and distributors have six months to comply with the ban.
"These advertisements are prohibited not because the consumption of sweetened condensed milk is prohibited, but rather to avoid misconceptions regarding the product's nutritive values for children's growth," said Mauizzati Purba, BPOM's director of processed food standardization.
According to Damayanti Rusli Sjarif, the head of nutrition and metabolic diseases at children's health department of the University of Indonesia, condensed milk is used all over the world for producing pastries, cakes, ice cream, not as a milk substitute.
"In Indonesia, however, sweetened condensed milk is given to children and infants as an alternative to formula milk," Damayanti said.
Recent studies by Unicef, Asean and WHO concluded that one in eight Indonesian children is overweight, with a major contributing factor being the consumption of dense processed foods, including condensed milk.
More than 50 percent of sweetened condensed milk is just sugar, and 100 grams of it account for 18 percent of the recommended daily intake of carbohydrates.