In the past few weeks, the community has been startled by reporting about Sweetened Condensed Milk (SCM), which is suspected of not containing milk and isn’t suitable for consumption by children.
Made from raw milk, brownish white, thick, and feels sweet but, it isn’t milk. This is not a guess, but an explanation of the product that is currently being discussed. The product that has been known by the public as Sweetened Condensed Milk (SCM), it turns out cannot be called milk. How come?
Let’s check the packaging label on a number of SCM brands. Although listed as using milk as one of the raw materials, the word label for milk is not included in the tin label. Because of that, the name became a bit odd. Products from Indomilk, for example, only have the words “thick sweet”. At the bottom of the can, there are additional words “sweet thick cream”.
The same thing can also be found on the product packaging from Frisian Flag, which only says “sweet thick flag”. There are also products from Indofood, which are also written as “sweet and tasty”. What’s thick and sweet? There is no specific explanation about the product.
In fact, in the packaging label about composition, the producers clearly include milk as raw material. Some people say whey powder, skimmed milk powder and some even clearly include fresh cow’s milk as a raw material in its composition.
The furor about SCM began with the issuance of Circular Letter from the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) numbered HK.06.5.51.511.05.18.2000 in 2018 about ‘Labels and Ads on Thickened and Analog Dairy Products (Food Category 01.3). This letter was issued at the end of May 2018. In essence, SCM is basically not milk, so it should not be visualized like milk.
As quoted by CNNIndonesia.com, Head of BPOM Penny Lukito said the circular letter was issued to protect consumers, especially children. Penny said that the circular letter was also made, there would be no mistake in the consumption of canned SCM which was widely advertised as a dairy product. “Related to thick sweetness this must be socialized because there are many wrong perceptions in the community in consuming it as milk products,” said Penny.
He also explained that the issuance of the circular letter did not mean that the thick sweet product was prohibited from being produced or consumed. It’s just that consumers and producers are encouraged to use the product wiser. “It is not prohibited, but we must be wise in consuming it,” he said.
In the circular letter, there are four main things that must be considered by producers, importers, and distributors of sweetened thickened products. First, sweetened thick products are prohibited from displaying children younger than five years in the form of television advertisements, as well as other advertisements. Secondly, sweetened thick products are also prohibited from visualizing their products with other dairy products that are equivalent to nutritional supplements. Dairy products include cow’s milk, pasteurized milk, sterilized milk, formula milk, and growth milk.
Third, this sweetened thick product is also prohibited from visualizing images of liquid milk or milk in a glass and served by brewing or being consumed as a drink. Fourth, for showtime products that are usually consumed by children or juxtaposed with children’s shows.
In 2017, there are 3 ads that do not meet the requirements because they include a product statement that has an effect on strength/energy, health, and claims that are not in accordance with the approved label. “The ad has been withdrawn and not found in circulation,” he said.
The BPOM circular letter finally triggered a reaction. Members of the DPR Health Commission (Commission IX) Okky Asokawati proposed the word ‘milk’ be removed on canned products of sweetened condensed milk. “It is feared that when there is still the word ‘milk’ there, people who are not well-informed assume that it is the main food companion milk. The word ‘milk’ might be replaced by sweetened drinks or something,” Okky told reporters.
Okky said BPOM has the authority to eliminate the word ‘milk’ in SCM while emphasizing that SCM as a product that is not recommended is consumed by children under the age of 5 years. Elimination of the word ‘milk’, according to Okky, aims to make mothers not mistakenly give nutrition to their children.
Okky explained that SCM content is different from other types of milk. Milk is actually intended as the main food companion for children. Milk must be full of nutrients, while SCM is dominated by sugar if consumed too much can cause side effects for child development.
“This SCM does contain a lot of sugar. And when we talk about milk, it’s society, especially mothers, that has the perception that all milk can be used as a complement to nutrition for their children. Even though, milk that has certain requirements can improve nutrition for children. Certain milk as said by the BPOM, namely sterilized milk, formula milk, or milk growth. And milk itself should be complementary only a companion for the main food of children,” explained Okky.
Nutritionists also speak up. Even though it’s called sweetened condensed milk, according to Leona Victoria Djajadi MND, Master of Nutrition and Dietetics (Nutritionist) from the University of Sydney, this product has a different content from cow’s milk. Many people are still mistaken about sweetened condensed milk. “Sweetened condensed milk has milk content but it is lower than the sugar content,” he said as quoted by detikFood.com.
According to Victoria, SCM cannot be called a source of calcium or a source of milk. Sweetened condensed milk should also not be given as a child’s daily consumption because it is not a real source of calcium. “The high sugar content in sweetened condensed milk can make the basis of high sweetness because of the habit of drinking, which can lead to overweight and obesity and high blood sugar can also damage your baby’s teeth and the calcium needs of the child is not sufficient,” Victoria said.
Added, adults also have to limit consumption of sweetened condensed milk. According to Victoria, adult men consume the maximum sugar is 9 tsp (37.5 gr) and women 6 tsp (25 gr). “So 1 portion of sweetened condensed milk already contains 22 grams, it’s almost the maximum limit. Not to mention the sugar content obtained from other foods,” he concluded.
Victoria also does not recommend people to consume sweetened condensed milk every day. This should be included in the category “extra food” as well as soft drinks, cakes, ice cream, and chips. “So 1-2 times a month,” closed Victoria.
Deputy Director of LPPOM MUI in the sector of Halal Assurance System (HAS) and Auditing, Muti Arintawati, stated that in conducting an inspection of SCM products that applied for halal certification, the LPPOM MUI auditor found that there was milk content in the product. Some are in the form of fresh milk or milk powder. Besides that, SCM also contains whey powder, fat, sugar, and water. And to produce good quality sweetened condensed milk, which has adequate nutrition and delicious taste, it is usually used as supporting ingredients such as flavors and vitamins.
In the dairy product group, there are various types of milk including fresh milk, UHT (Ultra High Temperature) milk, skim milk, milk powder, pasteurized milk, and evaporation milk. Well, this SCM is pure milk that is heated for some time, so that it changes into an evaporated milk.
Evaporated milk is formed by heating the milk using a vacuum pump to remove approximately 60% of its water content. Besides removing water, in making SCM sugar is also added as a sweetener and preservative. What is the composition of each ingredient, Muti Arintawati is not willing to explain further. “Our duty and role are to examine the halal materials used in products that apply for halal certification so that they are not authorized to explain the composition of each ingredient,” he said.
A strong reaction came from the Indonesian Milk Cooperative Association (GKSI). Through its General Chairman Dedi Setiadi, the forum for the association of fresh milk suppliers stated that if observed, there are at least two main issues that have the potential to mislead and disturb the community regarding sweetened condensed milk. Namely, concerning the basic characteristics and regulation of marketing. In terms of basic characteristics, some people say that sweetened condensed milk is not in the milk category. This opinion contradicts the definition of sweetened condensed milk which has been strictly regulated through the Regulation of the Head of the Drug and Food Supervisory Agency (BPOM) Number 21 of 2016 concerning the Food Category. This rule issued on May 24, 2016, clearly places sweetened condensed milk in the food category 01.3.1.
BPOM defines milk as a liquid from the udders of cows, buffaloes, horses, goats, sheep, and other milk-producing livestock both fresh and heated through pasteurization, Ultra High Temperature (UHT) or sterilization. Including all types of dairy products obtained from milk from milk-producing animals (for example cows, buffaloes, horses, goats, sheep, etc.). Sweetened condensed milk is a thick liquid milk product that is obtained by removing a portion of water from a mixture of milk and sugar until it reaches a certain level of density, or is the result of reconstituting milk powder with the addition of sugar, with or without the addition of other ingredients. The added sugar is used to prevent product damage. The product is pasteurized and packaged in a hermetic manner. Sweetened condensed milk has two basic characteristics, namely having milk fat content of not less than 8% and protein content not less than 6,5% (plain). This BPOM definition reinforces other similar rules regarding sweetened condensed milk which has been published in previous years.
Not only that, regarding circulation and labeling, the government has also regulated it through the Minister of Health Regulation Number 76 / Men.Kes / Per / XII / 75 concerning Circulation and Marking of Sweetened Condensed Milk. This policy clearly stipulates that sweetened condensed milk should not only be used for babies, namely children aged one day to 12 months. However, this product can be consumed by children and adults. Thus, the demand for regulation of circulation and labeling of sweetened condensed milk is also irrelevant.
Referring to these various things, Dedi Setiadi in his writings circulating in a number of media hoped that various stakeholders would stop various propaganda that could confuse the public. Or, in the end, the public will only judge that this unnecessary conflict cannot be separated from mere trade warfare. FMS