Nestle has removed the 4.5 Health Star Rating from its MILO powder in Australia and New Zealand, following claims from public health experts and consumer group Choice that the drink should only score 1.5 out of a maximum of five stars.
All other MILO products remain unaffected, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and a new packaging for the MILO powder will hit the stores within the next two months.
In an email to stakeholders, Nestle Oceania's head of corporate and external relations, Margaret Stuart, said it has dropped the rating from MILO as it awaits the outcome of the government's review of the Health Star Rating system, ABC reported. Stuart added that by doing so, Nestle hopes to avoid "further confusion" about how the rating system is designed, as well as "reduce the risk of damage to a system which is fundamentally sound".
The sugary chocolate powder was initially labelled 4.5 stars, with Nestle arguing that the product was designed to be consumed as three teaspoons along with a cup of skim milk. However, Choice was one of the groups that claimed the drink was not consumed in that specified manner among Australian consumers. According to a survey it conducted, only 13% of Australians drink MILO with skim milk, while 55% consume it with full cream milk. As such, it should only receive a 1.5 star rating.
This news comes as Nestle Malaysia recently defended its MILO product, following two viral videos from Malaysian entrepreneur Vishen Lakhiani who criticised Nestle for marketing its MILO brand product as healthy one, while disputing its benefits and nutritional value. The videos also claim that MILO is made up of 40% sugar.
Nestle clarified that MILO comprises 40% sugar, but that was only in its raw form before dilution. Consumers are hence recommended to prepare a cup of MILO using five teaspoons of MILO with 200ml of hot water, after which the total sugar is only 6%.
Marketing has reached out to the Health Promotion Board and Nestle Singapore for comments on whether the MILO powder in Singapore will be affected.