Nestlés new ombudsman stop Nestlés
received praise in some quarters for launching an ombudsman
system so that staff members can complain about violations of
the International Code and Resolutions. While this demonstrates
that Nestlé is concerned about its image, Baby Milk Action
questions whether the ombudsman system will have
any impact when we consider the following facts:
Charter and Instructions setting out
the companys interpretation of the World Health Assembly
marketing requirements misrepresent these measures. The interpretation
has been criticised by UNICEF and others, but Nestlé
continues to use it as the basis of its own monitoring (see
Questions Answered section for further details).
precious baby will forever be be No. 1 says
this Nestlé bill-board in Taiwan. When Nestlés
own Instructions permit such promotion, what will the
ombudsman do if staff are concerned about the impact on
systematically violates the International Code and Resolutions
and its own narrower policy (see the Your
Questions Answered section for further details).
Baby Milk Action
reports violations to Nestlé Chief Executive, Peter
Brabeck-Letmathé, who claims to investigate any hint
of a violation. When we have received replies from staff
these generally ignore the reports or dismiss them out of
hand (although the publicity generated by the Campaign for
Ethical Marketing has stopped some malpractice).
commissioned an independent audit into its activities
in Pakistan, the auditors were told they must not contact
Nestlé whistleblower Syed Aamar Raza or watchdog
organisations. Baby Milk Actions offer to provide
documentary evidence of bribes to doctors and other malpractice
was not passed on to the auditors. The resulting report,
based on Nestlés Charter rather
than the Code and Resolutions, was a whitewash. Nestlé
refused to attend a European Parliament Public Hearing in
November 2000 to defend the report and its activities (see
report in Boycott News
Instead of being
thanked for reporting violations, Syed Aamar Raza says his
life was threatened and he was offered a substantial sum
of money to keep quiet. He has been in hiding for over two
years. What guarantee is there that staff brave enough to
go to the ombudsman - a Nestlé employee
- will not experience the same treatment? (See summary of
the Milking Profits
previous Audit Commission was closed down in
1991 after it found evidence of widespread distribution
of free supplies in Mexico. Baby Milk Action reported many
violations to the Commission, but virtually all had still
not been addressed when the Commission was closed down by
However, the new ombudsman
system may be a genuine change.
Please send a letter
along the following lines to: Baby
food ombudsman, Nestlé S.A., Av. Nestlé 55,
CH-1800 Vevey, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 21 924 2813. (You can select
the text below and cut and paste it into a word-processor or ino
page on the Nestlé site).
baby food ombudsman system has been launched with great
publicity. Nestlés Chief Executive Officer,
Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, claims it demonstrates
Nestlés intention to abide by the World Health
Assembly marketing requirements for breastmilk substitutes.
Can you please respond to the following questions:
ombudsman refer to the International Code of Marketing
of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant
Resolutions of the World Health Assembly in investigations
or Nestlés own discredited interpretation
of these measures. Mr. Brabeck received a letter from
UNICEF (14 December 1997) setting out in detail why
Nestlés interpretation is incorrect,
but he has not made the required changes.
has failed to take appropriate action to end the many
violations reported to him over the course of years.
Will the ombudsman re-open these cases?
ombudsman take action to end Nestlés
campaign against former employee, Syed Aamar Raza?
promotion of Nestlé whole milks as baby food
In many countries
poor mothers use whole milks for infant feeding, rather than
infant formula or breastfeeding. Whole milks are many times
cheaper than infant formula. Poor mothers may use whole milks
if hospitals have not supported them breastfeeding (hospital
practices are often influenced by baby food companies). Promotion
of baby milk may have persuaded the mother that her breastmilk
is not good enough for her child, but she is unable to afford
expensive infant formula.
the use of dangerous whole milks, such as its Nido and
Ninho brands, by permitting them to be displayed in pharmacies
and supermarkets in the baby feeding section in some countries.
Montoring conducted by the International Baby Food Action Network
(IBFAN) and published as the report Breaking
the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2001, found that sales representatives
give inducements to shop keepers to encourage them to display
products to best effect to increase sales. Nestlé could,
perhaps, place the blame on shop keepers themselves if it wasnt
for that fact that Nestlés internal auditors
check on products in shops and permit the practice.
only attempts to squeeze extra profit out of poor mothers by
permitting this dangerous promotion. Nestlés Public
Relations staff attempt to blame the death and suffering of
infants on mothers who use inappropriate substances such as
whole milks (see Your
Questions Answered section).
In Brazil virtually
everyone is watching the 2002 World Cup. The product Nestlé
chooses to promote during Brazil's games is Ninho
regulations require a phrase warning that the product
should not be used for infant feeding (Norma Brasileira
para Comercialização de Alimentos para Lactentes
- Article 5).
does not give this warning in its television advertisements.
and the Brazilian flag in a TV advertisement prior to
the Brazil - Belgium game, 17 June 2002: "Nestlé,
from who most understands milk to who loves football."
(click for larger version)
to the man responsible for these marketing practices and the ineffectual
auditors: Nestlé Chief Executive Officer, Peter
Brabeck-Letmathé, Nestlé S.A., Av. Nestlé
55, CH-1800 Vevey, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 21 924 2813. (You can
select the text below and cut and paste it into a word-processor
or ino the comment
page on the Nestlé site).
highlighted the role of Nestlés internal
baby food marketing auditors in your recently published
It is very disturbing to see the auditors turning a
blind eye to the Nido whole milk displayed in
the baby food section of the shop they are pictured
visiting in Argentina. Nestlé is well aware that
the use of such milks for infant feeding is dangerous
to health. On your own website on the infant feeding
issue you hold mothers responsible for using inappropriate
substances such as whole milks for infant feeding and
the consequent ill health.
monitoring by the International Baby Food Action Network
(IBFAN) shows that the promotion of Nestlé whole
milks for infant feeding is widespread. You have already
been informed of this. Will you give a public undertaking
to ensure that this practice is stopped immediately?
Instructions on baby food marketing used by your auditors
are clearly part of the problem. These instructions
have been criticised in the past by IBFAN and UNICEF,
but you have not made the required changes to bring
them into line with the World Health Assembly marketing
requirements. Will you give a public undertaking to
You claim to discipline staff who violate the marketing
requirements for breastmilk substitutes. Will you discipline
whoever is responsible for placing the Ninho advertisement
in Brazil during the football World Cup without the
warning phrase required by Brazilian regulations. Will
you discipline the staff who are allowing whole milks
to be promoted in South America for infant feeding and
who conducted a Sustainability Review which turns a
blind eye to these practices?
can be a Code Monitor.