NestlÚ Boycott Continues Strong
NestlÚ, the world's largest baby food manufacturer, remains in non-compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. As a boycott target, NestlÚ is not only the largest baby food manufacturer, but also sets the marketing trends for the industry. NestlÚ's disrespect for the International Code and subsequent, relevant resolutions of the World Health Assembly knowingly puts babies at risk. It is well aware that any separation between baby and breast poses serious health threats for infants and young children. The boycott stands strong in over 20 countries and will continue until NestlÚ complies fully with the tenets of the International Code and takes seriously its corporate responsibility towards the world's children.
The NestlÚ boycott is forcing change, although reluctantly.
Examples of NestlÚ's ongoing violations worldwide:
In Lithuania, parents are tempted by a NestlÚ lottery which offers them the chance to win baby furniture when they purchase any kind of NestlÚ cereal, juice, or puree. The lottery provides extra incentives for parents to purchase NestlÚ products and is in violation of the Code.
Leaflets found recently in Botswana are fresh evidence of how NestlÚ idealizes artificial infant feeding and undermines breastfeeding, while claiming to be a 'trusted' company. "Growing is thirsty work" is the message on the front of the leaflet, pushing the idea that infants need additional fluids. In reality, breastmilk provides all the liquid an infant needs. The inside of the leaflet also suggests the formula is equivalent to breastmilk.
A leaflet that was handed out on a public bus in Gaborone, Botswana in 2003, suggests that NestlÚ abides by the WHO Code and claims the company is "the most trusted name in nutrition for 130 years". The leaflet itself is promoting Nan infant formula and is therefore a violation.
A Pelargon (a NestlÚ product) promotional leaflet claims that by using Pelargon "diarrhoea and its side-effects are counteracted." Scientific evidence does not support this claim and even a member of NestlÚ's own Nutrition Institute has disputed it. Where water is unsafe, an artificially-fed infant is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child. To suggest formula counteracts diarrhoea is irresponsible and puts lives at risk.
In Argentina, NestlÚ is promoting its "Nutrition System", NIDO, by contacting doctors. Letters sent to health practitioners invite them to enter a draw for a trip to Seattle to attend a pediatric meeting. In addition, the letters also ask how many children of certain ages the doctors have as patients. The back of the letter reads: "NOW THINK OF YOUR OWN GROWTH. NIDO ALSO IS WORRIED ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL PROGRESS," which could easily be construed as a promise of compensation should the contacted health workers cooperate with NestlÚ.
NestlÚ has also opened the NestlÚ Nutrition Institute in Africa (NNIA) supposedly to educate the population about safe feeding. This is in direct contradiction to a WHA resolution calling for independent and unbiased information to be given to HIV positive mothers who need to decide whether or not to breastfeed their babies. NestlÚ is taking advantage of the HIV pandemic and the increased risk of breastfeeding for seropositive mothers to reestablish formula feeding in Africa.
Recently after demonstrations at several UK NestlÚ sites, NestlÚ's Head of Corporate Affairs wrote to Baby Milk Action that the company had changed the labels of its complementary foods to comply with the requirements of the Code that complementary foods should not be marketed for infants younger than 6 months of age. This has been a requirement since the World Health Assembly adopted Resolution 47.5 in 1994.
However, NestlÚ's claim that it is 'leading the way' in the 6 month labelling issue needs closer examination. UNICEF Hong Kong wrote to NestlÚ on 29 May 2003:
"We were pleased to note from the headlines of your International Code Action Report that NestlÚ is taking the initiative on 6-month labelling. It was therefore with some disappointment to see that NestlÚ Hong Kong is still promoting complementary food from 4 months onwards... the Department of Health of the Hong Kong Government has followed the WHO recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life."
Similar reports are coming in from other countries. For example, the IBFAN group in Bulgaria informed us that NestlÚ has launched an advertising campaign in the June 2003 issue of "Baby" magazine promoting NestlÚ Sinlac for use from 4 months of age. The advertisement says: "Sinlac Baby Menu is a cereal for dietary uses with plant proteins, without gluten, lactose and milk proteins. For every baby over 4 months." Closer inspection of NestlÚ's promise reveals that it will only abide by the 6 month requirement in countries where it is given no choice.
Even in those countries where the company does technically abide by the WHA resolution, NestlÚ's compliance is hardly exemplary. In India, where the government's legislation requires that products are labelled for use after 6 months of age, NestlÚ's new labels have appeared, but in the advertisement to parents, the prominent age of use on the pack is obscured by placing it in a cartoon train carriage and the reference to 6 months appears only in small print. NestlÚ's new strategy appears to deliberately obscure the 'age of use' information and instead promote what it is calling its '1-2-3 feeding plan' using teddy bear figures representing stages of development.
The boycott against NestlÚ is critical to force it to change its deadly marketing practices. Its marketing techniques remain as disreputable as ever. Until these practices are in full compliance with the International Code, the boycott will remain in place. Hit NestlÚ where it hurts the most, in the wallet!
The World Health Organization estimates that 1.5 million infant deaths every year can be averted through improved breastfeeding practices (WHO Press Release, WHA/10;9 May, 1994). This means eliminating unnecessary bottle feeding and unethical marketing.
Don't add to NestlÚ's fortune while they add to infant suffering. Say no to formula pushers! Boycott these products until NestlÚ changes its marketing practices. Be sure to check all labels on products you buy, as NestlÚ owns many brands you may be familiar with. For a more complete list, check the INFACT Canada website (link to NestlÚ Boycott Page), and please contact us to receive free NestlÚ Boycott stickers.
Frutips Ice Treats
Mr. Big Ice Cream Bar
Nabisco Chip Ahoy!
Ice Cream Sandwich
Nabisco Oreo Ice
Nesquik Ice Cream
NestlÚ Crunch Ice
Kibbles and Chews
Spring 2003 Newsletters Contents