|Nestlé and Baby Milk
Nestlé is the world biggest food company. They make products such as chocolate, sweets, breakfast cereals and even food for companion animals (i.e. dogs and cats)! The companies has £39 billion (yes, billion) turnover!
However, what Nestlé doesn’t tell you is that it dangerously promotes baby milk around the world. What is a matter of increasing profits to Nestlé is a matter of life and death of infants in some parts of the world.
In all countries artificially fed infants are more prone to illness. But in poor countries where there isn't the same access to health care, it can be a matter of life and death. Where water is unsafe an artificially fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child. Babies are at risk of infections if dirty water is added to the milk power and babies who are artificially fed are not being protected by breastfeeding, which can help in fighting illness. However, It is not just the increased risk of infection that’s a problem, poor mothers persuaded not to breastfeed are over-diluting baby milk or using unsafe products such as whole milks (which Nestlé, dangerously, displays alongside the more expensive infant formula in the infant feeding section of pharmacies and supermarkets) or animal milks instead.
The people at United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), a charity set up to protect children worldwide, have said:
"Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute."
Nestlé knows the impact on babies and their families of its aggressive marketing of baby foods. It knows about the needless death and suffering that results from the company's pursuit of money. But Nestlé’s primary objective is making money, like all corporations. There is not anything wrong with making money, but there is if babies die!
We are not asking Nestlé to stop selling baby milk, all we ask is it plays by the rules, called the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes that World Health Organization has issued. The code sets out the rules that Nestlé and other baby milk companies should comply with. The code includes the following rules for all baby milk companies including Nestlé.
Baby food companies may not:
Baby food companies may not promote their products in hospitals, shops or to the general public, mothers should talk to professionals about what is best for their baby, they don’t need adverts pushing products at them, remember this can be life and death for babies in some parts of the world
Baby food companies may not give free samples to mothers or free or subsidised supplies to hospitals or maternity wards. Everyone likes something for nothing, but when it acts as a possibly dangerous promotion, it’s not worth it!
Baby food companies may not give gifts to health workers or mothers, the “gifts” often have a company promotion on them and are just another way of advertising.
Baby food companies may not promote their products to health workers: any information provided by companies must contain only scientific and factual matters, health workers should give professional advices to mothers and not act as an marketing staff for baby milk companies!
Baby food companies may not promote other foods or drinks for babies, under 6 months; it’s just not good for them!
Baby food companies may not give misleading information. Well, I think that’s reasonable seeing as babies’ health is on the line.
The code goes on to say:
There should be no contact between baby milk company sales personnel and mothers. Mothers should get advice from a professional not be sold to by profit driven companies
Labels must be in a language understood by the mother and must include a clear health warning. A labels no good unless you can read it and understanding the health issues is necessary with babies lives are on the line.
Baby pictures may not be shown on baby milk labels. Doing this can give an idealizing impression of the product, without actually make any claims about it.
The labels must not include language which idealises the use of the product. Breastfeeding is best for babies; mothers need the facts not idealising promotions.
Nestlé won’t agree to comply with this, instead it has its own code, which is not as good and has not even complied with that in the past!
Nestlé is the most aggressive of all the baby milk companies in attempting to convince mothers and health workers to favour artificial feeding over breastfeeding.
Nestlé does not tell the truth. Don’t take my word of it. When the company published an advertisement claiming to market infant formula 'ethically and responsibly' the Advertising Standards Authority, the people the control misleading adverts, agreed that the advert should not be used. The Nestlé boycott group, Baby Milk Action, have run an advert that was also investigated, however the Advertising Standards Authority agreed there was nothing wrong with the advert.
Nestlé knows what it needs to do to comply with the rules. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have even written to them explaining how Nestlé policy does not meet the rules, but Nestlé is still doing the wrong thing. Meanwhile babies die!
So that’s why there is a campaign to ask people not to buy Nescafe and other Nestle products, as a protest against the way Nestlé is acting. Nestle cares about profits, so by not buying its products it is forced to pay attention! As soon as Nestlé plays by the rules the campaign will end, all Nestlé needs to do is comply with the “4 Point Plan” (see next page)
4 Point Plan
Nestlé must state in writing that it accepts that the International Code and the subsequent, relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions are minimum requirements for every country.
Basically: Agree to the rules
Nestlé must state in writing that it will make the required changes to bring its baby food marketing policy and practice into line with the International Code and Resolutions (i.e. end its strategy of denial and deception).
Baby Milk Action will take the statements to the International Nestlé Boycott Committee and suggest that representatives meet with Nestlé to discuss its timetable for making the required changes.
Basically: Explain went it will stop breaking the rules
If IBFAN monitoring finds no Nestlé violations for 18 months, the boycott will be called off.
Basically: If Nestlé doesn’t break the rules the boycott will stop!
Nestlé may tell you that they are not doing anything wrong, but if that was the case they should agree to the “4 Point Plan”!
So what can you do about it? Stop buying Nestlé products and tell them why. Why not send them a letter or an email by going to the Baby Milk Action website (www.babymilkaction.org) or give Nestlé’s customer service line a call.
Your action will help! Nestlé have stopped breaking the rules, as badly, after people like you started seeing what they were doing. We need your support keep this campaign moving. Babies lives are at stake! Nestlé needs our cash, if they do things we don’t like, we have the right and the power not to buy their products until they change.
You can learn more at www.babymilkaction.org or at the Myspace page www.myspace.com/babymilkaction (don’t forget to add us to your friends list if you have a myspace yourself!)