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Take action to stop these violations of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. The people responsible have names and addresses - call on them to market their products ethically.

The tables below give details of some recent violations. The date when the violation was last reported to Baby Milk Action or confirmed to be current is given. The violation reference is for Baby Milk Action's records. Please quote it if forwarding correspondence to us, if possible.

Read the company responses received so far.

Will companies now please change their labels!!

Violation Reference


Labels of complementary foods promote introduction at too early an age


In 1994 the World Health Assembly adopted a Resolution (WHA 47.5) stating that complementary feeding should be fostered from "the age of about 6 months". This was because of the health risks of introducing complementary (or "weaning") foods too early. This is particularly dangerous in poor conditions where infants are at more risk of infection and are less likely to have access to a health care system.

Unfortunately baby food companies continue to label their complementary foods for use from four months of age or even earlier. They have disputed the Resolution adopted by the World Health Assembly and ignored scientific evidence. Why? It is estimated that they sell an extra US$1 billion of products every year by labelling them for use at too early an age.

The World Health Assembly adopted a new Resolution on 18th May this year again indicating that complementary foods should not be promoted before 6 months of age (see IBFAN press release). This is a public health recommendation and does not prevent health workers suggesting earlier introduction of complementary foods if there is a medical reason for doing so in specific cases.

Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2001. Monitoring conducted by IBFAN in 14 countries exposes the worst violators of the International Code and Resolutions. Again, Nestle tops the list.

Order the report from the Virtual Shop


The International Association of Infant Food Manufacturers (IFM) whose members include some of the worst violators of the marketing requirements tried to stop discussion of this Resolution this year and then tried to weaken it (see British Medical Journal report 9 September 2000).

Will companies finally change their labels or will they continue to put their own profits before infant health?

Take action: Write to the following Chief Executives whose companies continue to violate the Resolutions. The new IBFAN monitoring report, Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2001 exposes which companies are at fault. (Abbott is not a member of IFM - all others are or have subsidiaries which are).

Miles D. White, CEO, Abbott Laboratories, 100 Abbott Park Road, Abbott Park, Illinois 60064-3500, USA. Fax: +1 8479371511.

Frank Riboud, CEO, Danone, 7 rue de Teheran, 75381 Paris, France. Fax: +33 1 42 25 67 16

CEO, Dumex, International Nutrition Company, Uplandsgade 38, Copenhagen S, Denmark 2300.

CEO, Friesland, Piewter Stuyvesantweg 1, PO Box 226, 8901 MA Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. Fax: +31 58 299 3299

Daniel Vasella, CEO (Novartis - parent of Gerber), Novartis, Lichtstrasse 35, CH-4002, Basel, Switzerland. Fax: +41 61 324 8001.

William R Johnson, CEO, HJ Heinz Co., PO Box 57, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-0057, USA. Mr. Klaus Hipp, General Manager, Hipp K.G., Postfach 1551, 85265 Pfaffenhofen, Germany. Fax: +43 7612 76577 201.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, CEO, Nestlé S.A., Av. Nestlé 55, CH-1800 Vevey, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 21 924 2813.

Hans van der Wielen, CEO, NUMICO (Nutricia, Milupa, Cow&Gate), PO Box 1, 2700 MA Zoetermeer, The Netherlands. Fax: +31 79 353 9620.

Suggested letter:


Your company has been violating Resolution 47.5 of the World Health Assembly for the past seven years by labelling complementary foods for use before 6 months of age. As you know this Resolution was based on the scientific evidence of the harm caused by early introduction of complementary foods.

The World Health Assembly has this year again indicated that complementary foods should not be promoted for use before 6 months. Resolution 54.2 calls for action to "protect, promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for six months as a global public health recommendation... with continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond." Will you now give a clear public undertaking to change your complementary food labels so that none promote complementary feeding before 6 months of age and do not undermine breastfeeding in any other way?

Will you also state clearly that your company will do nothing to try and undermine or weaken the recommendation of the World Health Assembly?

The International Association of Infant Food Manufacturers attempted to block this Resolution from being discussed at this World Health Assembly. Did your company support this strategy and, if so, why?


Nestlé plays word games with Cameroon violation

Violation Reference
Promotion of breastmilk substitutes at health facilities in Cameroon.
May 2001


Baby Milk Action has publicised the launch of the Nestlé boycott in Cameroon - the 20th country where a concerned national group has taken boycott action (see press release).

The group Cameroon Link reported to us that it took this action after finding Nestlé promoting Nan and Guigoz infant formula at health facilities with film shows. Baby Milk Action referred to the violation report in its publicity. On its website Nestlé seizes on the word "report" to suggest we are not sure of our facts and denies the violation.

Our partners on the ground in Cameroon stand by their report. Cameroon Link states:

"Last year the group Cameroon Link launched the Nestle boycott to protest against Nestle's aggressive marketing practices, having found Nestle promoting Nan and Guigoz infant formula at health facilities in Bonaberi-Douala, at the out-skirt of the economic capital of Cameroon with a population of over two million people. Not only were the medical delegates found in the hospital distributing Nestle ads and samples of the baby breast milk substitutes, film shows were programmed. Baby Milk Action for this reason has no excuse or apology to give.

"Following the launch of the boycott, Nestle planned a series of activities to counter the bad publicity, and to weaken the strength of the boycott in Cameroon. Cameroon Link was contacted for clarification on the boycott and there have been two meetings with Michel Bosshard, the General Manager of Nestle for Central African region. Mr. Bosshard has encouraged the NGO to call off the boycott."

Write to: Mr. Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé S.A. 55, Av. Nestlé. CH-1800 Vevey, Switzerland (Fax: +41 21 921 1885). Please copy to: Cameroon Link, Human Assistance Programme, PO Box 1460 Douala, Cameroon.

Suggested letter:


It has been reported that Nestlé has been found promoting Nan and Guigoz breastmilk substitutes at health facilities in Cameroon.

On its website Nestlé denies the violation and seizes on the word "report" to suggest Baby Milk Action, which has publicised the violation, is unsure of its facts.

Baby Milk Action stands by its violation report.

You claim to personally review any hint of a violation. Will you investigate this issue and take appropriate action against the Nestlé staff responsible for the violation and the apparent cover up attempt.

UK election special


The UK is having a general election on 7th June. Here we give some key questions for candidates. These can be adapted for politicians in all countries.

Suggested questions:

  1. Are you aware of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions on infant feeding adopted by the World Health Assembly?

  2. Are you aware that these policies were adopted as minimum requirements to be implemented in their entirety by all countries? The UK Law does not fully implement the Code and Resolutions. If you are elected will you work to bring the UK Law into line with these minimum health standards? (The UK Law is called the "Infant Formulae and Follow-on Formulae Regulations, 1995" - see Baby Milk Action's briefing paper "Why the UK law must be changed").

  3. Will you work to ensure that international bodies such as the European Union and the World Trade Organisation take the International Code and Resolutions into account wherever relevant.

  4. Last November the European Parliament held a Public Hearing into Nestlé's baby food marketing activities in developing countries, but Nestlé refused to attend. What action will you take to call transnational companies such as Nestlé to account for their actions?

  5. Companies are increasingly sponsoring school materials to market their products to young people and to try to improve negative images. Will you support a ban on marketing in schools? (Baby Milk Action's new schools pack, Seeing through the Spin, is a teacher's resource encouraging students to look critically at materials produced by companies and their critics).

You may also wish to raise issues such as maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks and support for the Nestlé boycott.




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