Middlesex-London's Go For It! Campaign
Middlesex-London Health Unit's campaign, "Go For It! Breastfeeding at work, the mall, the restaurant…" highlights a mother's right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere. The campaign reinforces the importance breastfeeding and educates the public about the Ontario Human Rights Code and the protection it garners breastfeeding mothers and babies. Thanks Middlesex-London Health Unit for your brave campaign!
Pharmacie Jean-Coutu Pulls Formula Ads
Activists got their message out loud and clear to the drug-store chain Pharmacie Jean-Coutu. The chain published and distributed a pamphlet in Quebec, New Brunswick, and Ontario that was intended to promote infant formula sales. The pamphlet contained false and misleading statements intended to illustrate the relative convenience of formula and the mess and bother of breastfeeding.
In total, 200,000 copies of the pamphlet were printed for distribution. A Quebec breastfeeding group began using the pamphlet as an example of misleading marketing practices and contacted the pharmacy's chief of advertisement in order to ask him to stop its distribution.
The advertising chief eventually agreed to take the pamphlet out of circulation once the first round of 200,000 was distributed, but he changed his mind when it was explained that the pamphlet was being used as an example of inappropriate marketing. The pamphlet was subsequently taken off store shelves and the company recalled those that had already been distributed. Some creative thinking - and the threat of bad publicity - made the difference!
3 Strikes You're Out: Wal-Mart's Repeated Offences
INFACT member Donna Schinkel reports that she has received a response from Wal-Mart regarding her letter questioning the company's promotion of store-brand formula. (Canada Breastfeeds, Winter 2003).
Wal-Mart buyer, Jennifer Agnew replied, "The WHO Code was only a suggestion and not law," and goes on to say: "It [The Code] was for third world countries." Agnew is wrong on both counts. Although the International Code is a recommendation to governments, industry is obligated to abide by the Code's requirements. Furthermore, the Code, like all UN documents is universal and intended for all global citizens. Its name - The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes - denotes its global intent.
Saara Harvie of Flin Flon, Manitoba reports that the Wal-Mart pamphlet, "Living Smart", contains four ads for infant food products. One ad claims their formula is "Closer than ever to breast milk". Another states that their formula is proven to enhance cognitive development claiming their product is, "Theonly formula clinically proven to result in higher early mental development scores". Both of these ads flank an article entitled "Healthy Eating for a Healthy Baby" that gives nutrition advice during pregnancy and beyond to ensure a healthy baby. The placement of these ads implies that formula feeding is essential to this health.
Another formula ad promotes new product packaging. The ready-to- erve liquid promoted in the ad is now available in a large, reclosable plastic bottle and raises questions about the safety of storing formula for prolonged periods of time in supermarkets and pharmacies. If the shelf life, like powdered formula, is three years, it needs to be determined if the plasticizers in the packaging will contaminate the product and increase the cancer risk to infants.
It’s clear that when it comes to putting infant health before corporate profit Wal-Mart strikes out!
Spring 2003 Newsletters Contents