March 12, 2004.
Nestle Infiltrates Health Care System
It appears as though Nestle has again managed to infiltrate the health care system in its unethical campaign to promote baby formula. Its new promotional publication, a 28-page colour booklet entitled “Nestle Baby”, contains a section written by Dr. Peter Nieman, a pediatrician at Alberta Children’s Hospital and Rockyview General Hospital. In his piece, Dr. Nieman explains the supposed virtues of some of Nestle’s infant products.
Dr. Nieman also has two websites. In the “Parent Resources” section of www.healthykids.ca he lists different organizations which may be a help to parents. Nowhere is a breastfeeding support group listed, but Nestle is listed as a “specialty health organization”! Since when is Nestle a health organization? Given the fact that Dr. Nieman appears in their promotions, it is obvious that he and the corporation have a working relationship.
Dr. Nieman offers online help to parents for an annual subscription fee of $129.95. He also offers seminars for health care professionals at $399 for physicians and $99 for other health care workers. One must be very suspicious at the kind of advice parents and doctors are paying him for. If it is anything like the information on his website, it is biased by corporate influence.
Nestle claims to abide by the WHO’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, which explicitly forbids formula promotion through the health care system. Dr. Nieman directly mentions the ‘benefits’ of their products in his piece in their booklet. This is a flagrant violation of the code. Most doctors would not promote any infant formula, let alone a specific brand, but Nieman’s/Nestle’s promotion would lead you to believe that doctors think formula is a good thing. This is hardly the consensus in the medical community, and given the ill effects that bottle-feeding can have (lower IQ’s, greater risks of cancer, heart disease, obesity, infection etc. than breastfed babies) this promotion puts infant health at risk.
Dr Nieman’s/Nestle’s information
- Is not independent
- Is compromised
- Puts infants at risk
- Shamelessly disguises corporate self-promotion as expert advice
Nestle has once again overstepped the bounds of morality and blatantly violated the International Code. Remember this the next time you hear that the company claims to abide by it.
Email Dr. Nieman at firstname.lastname@example.org:
I recently became aware of your two websites, www.healthykids.ca and www.drnieman.com. While any attempt to educate parents on how to properly raise their children is obviously commendable, I fear that some of your advice is biased and may be dangerous.
For example, the lecture on infant feeding has one sentence on breastfeeding, saying only that it is "best" - but it does not list any of the hazards of substituting formula for human breastmilk.
Your Specialty Medical Organization list does not include any of the very useful breastfeeding support websites with information from La Leche League, other breastfeeding support online, Dr. Thomas Hale, - or even Dr. Jack Newman, one of the well-known and highly respected Canadian breastfeeding medicine experts. To make matters worse Nestle, a formula company, IS listed!
This type of information is more supportive of bottle-feeding than of breastfeeding, and it will likely cause more babies to be artificially fed. As I’m sure you know, this will place them at greater risk for cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Why you would give such information would seem mystifying, except for the fact that you recently appeared in a promotional booklet for Nestle. To me, it is obvious that you have some kind of agreement with the company. Are you aware that Nestle has repeatedly been proven to endanger infant health through its aggressive and unethical promotion of infant formula? Are you aware that it is currently the target of a consumer boycott in 20 countries because of this? Do you realize that promotion of any infant formula through the health care system is a gross violation of the WHO’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes? I sincerely hope you haven’t subscribed to Nestle’s deadly philosophy of putting profits before the health of infants.
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