Winter 98 Newsletter INFACT Canada



Nestlé remains obstinate despite widespread criticisms

Nestlé’s public relations documents boldly claim that, “Nestlé does not break the WHO Code, so why do people say we do?” Well here’s why:

In Sri Lanka Nestlé is attempting to weaken the Sri Lankan Code for the Promotion and Protection of Breast Feeding and Marketing of Infant Formulae and Related Products by lobbying the government:

  • to limit the scope of infant feeding products restricted by the Sri Lankan act
  • to eliminate the requirements of labelling in three official languages
  • to reduce the restrictions on industry “information” distribution
  • to permit the provision of “support” to the health professionals and medical researchers.
  • to permit the industry to participate in the government Code monitoring system.

In Russia Nestlé is promoting bottled water for bottle feeding. The International Code covers “beverages ... when marketed ... as a partial or total replacement for breastmilk.”

In Armenia Nestlé Cerelac is advertised directly to the public on buses and trams. Nestlé infant formulas NAN and Alsoy are advertised on the vehicles of its distributors as well as on television.

In Pakistan Nestlé is putting pressure on the Ministry of Health claiming that the proposed draft Code is impractical, not workable and is using the Pakistan Pediatric Association to oppose the proposed legislation to protect breastfeeding.

In Thailand Nestlé continues to use free supplies to a large hospital in Bangkok claiming that 30% of mothers are “unable” to breastfeed. The UNICEF Nutrition project officer for Thailand, writes in a letter dated, 15 December 1997: “UNICEF’s position is that all free supplies to hospitals and health facilities must be stopped to protect breastfeeding.” Moreover when infant formula is readily available in hospital, health workers and mothers are less inclined to overcome breastfeeding problems, turning instead to bottle feeding.

Here in Canada Nestlé continues its aggressive direct marketing to pregnant women and new parents.

Age targeted mailings offer free formula, coupons and the prevalent “educational” brochures with excessive and unsubstantiated claims. At a recent parent show in Ontario, the Nestlé “nutritionists” handed out free formula, coupons, and misleading information to mothers.

On the world stage Nestlé denies its accountability in complying with World Health Assembly resolutions that are passed dealing with the International Code and infant and young child nutrition, claiming that these do not add to the International Code.

And what does UNICEF think of Nestlé’s persistent war on breastfeeding? After a high level meeting with Nestlé, in a letter dated November 1997, Carol Bellamy, Executive Director, writes the following:

“UNICEF remains convinced that the International Code applies to all countries. The following paragraph from the preamble to the Code makes it clear that no country is free from the adverse effects on child health and nutrition of infant feeding.”

Recognizing further that the inappropriate feeding practices lead to infant malnutrition, morbidity and mortality in all countries, and that improper practices in the marketing of breast-milk substitutes and related products can contribute to these major public health problems.

Bellamy continues,

“It continues to be clear that the divergent views are simply, not reconcilable in specific and critical areas. Therefore, much as we appreciate the opportunity to have had the meeting, it does not seem to us to be useful to maintain such contact in the future.”

Join the movement to put pressure on Nestlé to stop undermining breastfeeding. Boycott Nestlé!

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