find violations - but then clear Nestlé
a major new public relations offensive on its baby
food marketing in April 2005. The initiative by Chief
Executive, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, includes
a booklet called Nestlé’s Commitment
to Africa which contains a section entitled: “Operating
with integrity: infant food marketing.”
Veritas to examine Nestlé’s activities.
As with a similar audit in Pakistan (discredited
before a European Parliament Public Hearing in November 2000),
Nestlé required the auditors to use the company’s
Instructions, rather than the World Health Assembly measures.
Veritas looked at the marketing of infant formula,
not all breastmilk substitutes and found nothing wrong
with the company distributing materials to mothers.
Nestlé seeks direct contact with mothers as in
the South African advertisement shown right. When this
example was raised with Nestlé the company defended
it. Yet now Nestlé’s audit claims there is
no contact with mothers, ‘other than in cases of
The auditors also
missed violations which have been documented in monitoring
conducted by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN).
Both Baby Milk Action and the International Code Documentation
have requested a meeting with Bureau Veritas to
discuss monitoring protocols and findings, but have been
told they are not allowed to comment on the work they have
As an example, Nestlé’s
report claims labels comply, but IBFAN Africa’s
monitoring exercise in 2002 found tins such as Nan
Tanzania (right) did not have correct warnings and promoted
introduction of complementary
foods from too early an age.
Veritas notes that Nestlé managers are encouraging
governments to introduce national codes. IBFAN has documented
how this strategy undermines moves to introduce binding
legislation on past action sheets and in its report Checks
in the global economy: Using international tools to stop
corporate malpractice - does it work? which looked at 7 case study
countries. Where there is independently monitored and enforced
legislation, violations are stopped and breastfeeding rates
are increasing. Where Nestlé’s strategy of pursuing
voluntary codes has succeeded, violations remain widespread.
Milk Action has produced a briefing paper Nestlé’s Public Relations Machine Exposed responding to Nestlé’s new offensive.
This includes a summary of ICDC’s legal analysis
of Nestlé Instructions showing how they differ
from the International Code and Resolutions.
When a previous audit was examined by a Public Hearing
at the European Parliament, UNICEF’s Legal Officer commented on the differences between the official standards
and Nestlé’s representation of them.
letter to the man who thinks spending a fortune on PR offensives
is better than changing company policy
Peter Brabeck-Lethmathé, Chief Executive, Nestlé S.A.
Avenue Nestlé 55, Vevey 1800, Switzerland. You
can select the text below and copy and
paste it into a word-processor or into the comment
page on the Nestlé site. Note Nestlé keeps
changing the address of the comment page. If the link
to it is dead go via http://www.nestle.com/.
I would be
grateful if you could send me a copy of the Nestlé Commitment
to Africa report. Can you explain when you send it
why Nestlé conducts audits using the Nestlé Instructions
rather than the International Code of Marketing
of Breastmilk Substitutes and
subsequent, relevant Resolutions
of the World Health Assembly? As you know, UNICEF
has set out to you in writing specific
examples of where company policies fall short of the
The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN)
has provided documentary
evidence of Nestlé’s
own materials, such as labels and advertisements, which
show Nestlé does not comply with the Code and
Resolutions. For example, Nestlé’s “blue
bear and baby care friends” invite meetings with
mothers. Are you saying Nestlé has stopped such
practices or do you continue to excuse such blatant breaches
of the requirements?
If you continue to dispute IBFAN’s evidence why
is Nestlé refusing to attend the independent
public tribunal proposed by Baby Milk Action to ascertain who
is telling the truth?
retailers in breach of the law
Milk Action is coordinating a monitoring project in the UK
on behalf of the Baby Feeding Law Group, consisting
of 16 health worker organisations, representing over half
a million health workers. This is part of the campaign to
have the UK law brought into line with the International
Code and Resolutions. See Update
35 for details of how to
support this campaign.
has documented widespread and systematic breaches of the
International Code and Resolutions (download
the Look What They're Doing in the UK summary report),
due to the weakness in the law. For example, the law does
and promotion of follow-on milks. At the same time the amount
of promotion of infant formulas, which is prohibited by the
law, raises serious cause for concern. Retailers including
Asda, Boots, Morrisons and Tesco have been reported repeatedly
to Trading Standards officers, who often take action, but
then similar promotions recur. Only Sainsbury’s
appears to have stopped producing promotional shelf-talkers
formula following the intervention of Trading Standards,
though other forms of blatant violations continue. Click
here for details of the illegal promotions.
a message to the retailers listed here asking them to respect
the law and the Code and Resolutions. You can cut and paste
the suggested text below, putting it into your word processor
programme or the comment page on the company website.
Asda, ASDA House, Southbank, Great Wilson Street, Leeds, LS11 5AD.
Or see www.asda.co.uk
Group PLC, 1 Thane Road, Nottingham, NG2 3AA. Or see www.boots-plc.com
Morrison Supermarkets plc, Thornton Road, Bradford,
BD8 9AX. Or see www.morrisons.co.uk
PLC, New Tesco House, Delamare Road, Cheshunt,
Hertfordshire, England, EN8 9SL. Or see www.tesco.com
I have seen
news claiming that your company has been reported to
Trading Standards repeatedly for promoting infant formula
in breach of the Infant
Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations (1995). As it appears any action taken
by Trading Standards has been insufficient to persuade
you to stop such promotions, I wish to add my voice
to those calling on you to respect the law.
As you should know you are also required to abide
by the International Code of Marketing of
Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health
11.3 of the Code states:
of any other measures taken for implementation of
this Code, manufacturers and distributors of products
the scope of this Code should regard themselves as
responsible for monitoring their marketing practices
the principles and aim of this Code, and for taking
steps to ensure that their conduct at every level
Your company violates the Code systematically with
its promotions of follow-on milks. Can you explain
feel you can disregard your responsibilities under
Alternative first paragraph for Sainsbury’s
Supermarkets Ltd., 33 Holborn, London, EC1N 2HT. Or see www.sainsburys.co.uk:
have seen news claiming that your company has been reported
to Trading Standards for promoting infant
formula in breach
of the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations (1995).
You have been credited by campaigners with stopping such
promotion and I would be grateful for further details of the
you have put in place." [then the comments on the International
Code and Resolutions].
- unethical promotion
it portrays itself as an ethical company because some of
its foods are certified as organic, Hipp is one of the worst
companies for undermining breastfeeding in Central and Eastern
Europe. Click here for
evidence. A new wave or promotions has
prompted our partners in these countries to ask us for help.
send a letter to human rights violator, Klaus Hipp, Hipp
K.G., Postfach 1551, 85265 Pfaffenhofen, Germany.
to be received from Central and Eastern European countries
such as Armenia about Hipp violating the International
Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent,
relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly.
example, Hipp has been advertising complementary foods
on television for use from too early an age and
continues to promote teas for use from as early as
one week of age. These practices endanger health.
viewed as the world’s least responsible company,
has promised to stop
promoting complementary foods for
use before 6 months.
Why is Hipp
not taking similar action to bring its policies into
line with the World Health
Will it take
a high-profile boycott campaign to persuade your company
as it did
with Nestlé? If so, I will support this call.
can be a Code Monitor.