February 17, 2006
Hospital for Sick Kids Accepts Nestlé Sponsorship
The Toronto Hospital for Sick Children’s Specialty Food Shop is hosting a workshop this March entitled Food Allergies: Fundamentals to Frontiers. The workshop is for health professionals and according to the brochure is being “generously sponsored” by Nestlé Nutrition. The Nestlé logo appears twice on the brochure (http://www.sickkids.ca/sfsforprofessionals/custom/WorkshopBrochure.pdf).According to the leaflet, during one section of the workshop
“Nutrition management of food allergies in infants and children will…be discussed along with suggestions for appropriate food choices and timing of when to introduce solids. “
This itinerary is very troubling considering that Nestlé claims its formula is capable of preventing allergies in infants and has a vested interest in unduly influencing mothers’ “appropriate food choices.” Given the company’s generous sponsorship of the workshop, it difficult to imagine that the speakers will contradict the company’s claims about its formula’s hypoallergenic properties, despite the fact that they are wholly unfounded and the study on which they are based has been completely discredited as a work of brazen academic fraud (see http://www.infactcanada.ca/Chandra_Feb72006.htm). Breastfeeding is overwhelmingly found to be the feeding choice that most reduces the incidence of allergies in children and later in life. Even more distressing is that the speaker for this particular section of the workshop is one of Sick Kid’s own dieticians.
Nestlé’s funding of this event clearly presents a conflict of interest to the hospital and is not in the best interest of the community’s mothers and children. Despite the inadequacy of public funding to Canada’s healthcare system, corporations must not be allowed to use their wealth to undermine the health of infants in their quest for profits, and the Hospital for Sick Children should know better than to accept the sponsorship. Please write a letter to the hospital voicing your objection. Alter INFACT Canada’s letter (below) or write your own. In the past, mass action from INFACT’s members has been able to cancel similar sponsorships. Your letters will make a difference.
Send letters to: The Specialty Food Shop at firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Specialty Food Shop,
We at INFACT Canada were extremely disappointed to hear that the Specialty Food Shop at Sick Kids has accepted a sponsorship from Nestlé Nutrition for its upcoming workshop on Food Allergies: Fundamentals to Frontiers. We feel this presents a clear conflict of interest for the Hospital, especially because Nestlé claims that its formula reduces the incidence of allergies in infants and young children. We sincerely hope that the workshop, especially the section entitled Feeding: From the Womb to Weaning, does not reflect these claims.
Recently, it was discovered that the initial study on which Nestlé based the assertion of its product’s hypoallergenic qualities was actually faked by a doctor named Ranjit Chandra. Dr. Chandra accepted funding from Nestlé to conduct the study, and was induced to produce results favourable to the company. We at INFACT believe that this is a prime example of the fact that whenever health facitilies accept sponsorship from coorporations with a vested interest in the healthcare system, the opportunity is presented for the health of the community to be undermined in favour of corporate interests.
Despite what Nestlé may say, breastfeeding, and not the company’s “special” formula, is consistenly found to be the best way to prevent children from developing allergies. INFACT is very concerned that this fact will be difficult to present in a workshop sponsored by the company, and the health professionals attending will be led to disseminate information detrimental to the optimal health of those in their care. We respectfully request that you terminate your sponsorship deal with Nestlé and refrain from reaching similar agreements in the future.