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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.

NUMICO admits to "aggressive marketing" in UK pharmacies

Violation Reference


Promotion in retail outlets
March 2001


Article 5.5 of the International Code specifically bans company marketing staff from "seeking direct or indirect contact with pregnant women or mothers of infants and young children." NUMICO, the European baby food market leader, is blatantly disregarding this Article with its Nutricia Baby Feeding Centres of Excellence.

NUMICO claims in the magazine Independent Community Pharmacist that it aims to help pharmacists "to compete in an aggressive market." Objectives of the scheme are to "get pharmacists closer to mother in-store" and to "target consumers directly to influence choice of purchase." The advertisement for the scheme in the same magazine pictures Omneo Comfort infant formula and follow-on formula as well as complementary foods.

In addition to training pharmacy staff, NUMICO (under its Nutricia brand name) provides the following service: "drop-in sessions - four times a year, sessions are held inviting parents to the pharmacy where they are greeted by Nutricia staff who can offer advice on infant feeding and product information. Attendees also receive literature, samples and gifts. Consumers are invited either by direct mail within a three-mile radius of the pharmacy or by personal invite from the pharmacist." Baby Milk Action has received complaints about the promotional nature of the advice and information materials given through this scheme.

NUMICO's initiative of promoting in the community comes as its marketing staff find it increasingly difficult to promote products in hospitals. A growing number of hospitals have signed up to UNICEF's Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which aims to give independent advice on infant feeding, in line with the aims of the International Code and Resolutions. NUMICO reports on the impact of its community-based approach thus: "All pilot stores demonstrated at least a 50% growth in sales."

If you find a local pharmacy promoting the scheme, particularly if NUMICO´s Nutricia staff are in store, contact Baby Milk Action so we can take immediate action.

Write to: Mr. Klaas de Jonge, Director, Numico, Rokkeveemseweg 49, 2712 PJ Zoetermeet, Netherlands. Fax: +31 79 3539 620 and copy your Local Trading Standards Office (contact details in your telephone book). Suggested letter:


I am writing to protest about the way NUMICO is directly promoting breastmilk substitutes to mothers in pharmacies in the UK.

Your Nutricia Baby Feeding Centres of Excellence are a flagrant violation of Article 5.5 of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. The Code is intended to ensure that all mothers receive accurate and unbiased information on infant feeding. Company schemes such as this - as admitted in NUMICO´s own information - aim to steer mothers towards the company´s products such as Omneo breastmilk substitutes and Nutricia complementary foods. NUMICO´s attempts to increase sales in what it refers to as an "aggressive market" undermine breastfeeding.

I request that you immediately cancel this programme and issue an apology.


Nestlé rejects four-point plan aimed at saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott

Violation Reference
Policy on the International Code and Resolutions.
March 2001


Nestlé has consistently refused to debate the baby milk issue with Baby Milk Action - (for example, on 11th March Nestlé refused to attend a public meeting in Lichfield). An exception was made on 15th March at Cambridge University - possibly because a Nestlé graduate recruitment was targeted by students last year after Nestlé´s refused to attend a debate.

Hoping for new openess from Nestlé, Baby Milk Action put forward a four-point plan aimed at saving infant lives and ultimately ending the 20-country Nestlé boycott.

The first step requires Nestlé to provide a clear written statement acknowledging that the International Code and Resolutions are minimum requirements for all countries. Nestlé immediately disputed this is the case, despite this being the position of the World Health Assembly (see Resolution 34.22).

Nestlé was also asked to provide a clear written statement indicating that it is willing to make changes to bring its activities into line with the International Code and Resolutions. Unfortunately Nestlé´s response to violations raised by Baby Milk Action and students at the meeting (which was chaired by legal expert Professor Spencer) demonstrated the same tactics of denial and deception used to date.

These two statements would have enabled Baby Milk Action to go to its partners in the International Nestlé Boycott Committee to propose a meeting with the company to discuss its timetable for implenting the changes (step three).

Step four of the plan involves continuing to monitor Nestlé´s activities and calling off the boycott if no violations are found for 18 months.

Write to: Mr. Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé S.A. 55, Av. Nestlé. CH-1800 Vevey, Switzerland (Fax: +41 21 921 1885). Suggested letter:


I am writing to express my concern at Nestlé´s refusal to accept the four-point plan put forward by Baby Milk Action as a way of saving infant lives and ultimately ending the Nestlé boycott.

This plan was put to Nestlé in good faith. Nestlé apparently refuses to accept the position of the World Health Assembly that the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is a minimum requirement for all countries as stated in Resolution 34.22 and the validity of susbsequent, relevant Resolutions. Nestlé also apparently refuses to embark on a process of bringing its activities into line with these measures.

Nestlé´s refusal to provide the written statements requested by Baby Milk Action exposes the real obstacle to progress. I ask you to reconsider your position and accept the proposals put forward by Baby Milk Action.

Indonesia stands up to industry pressure

Violation Reference

Not revealed

Attempt to weaken government measures
January 2001


In Indonesia a lobbying firm called Harvest International is working for an anonymous client to put pressure on the government to allow the advertising of follow-on formulas. The government has implemented the International Code and Resolutions by banning the advertising of infant foods promoted for use up to the age of one year. This recognises that continued breastfeeding is recommended after complementary foods are introduced at about 6 months and that follow-on formulas are substituting for breastmilk during this period and so come within the scope of the Code.

The baby food industry argues that follow-on formulas are outside the scope of the Code and uses them as a means to promote brand names which are used across a range of breastmilk substitutes, including infant formula intended for use from birth.

Harvest has refused to name its client and when challenged on the scientific accuracy of its presentations to government by the Indonesian Breastfeeding Promotion Foundation responded in a letter copied to Baby Milk Action (4 January 2001): "I fear that you may have to accept that there are people or groups whose interests are directly opposed to what you believe in."

At the time of writing, the industry lobby has failed to convince the government.

Write to: His Excellency, Dr. Achmad Sujudi, Minister of Health and Social Welfare of the Republic of Indonesia, Jl. Rasuna Said No. 4-9, Jakarta Selatan 12950, Indonesia. Suggested Letter:


I wish to congratulate the Indonesian government for its Regulation No. 69/99 as I understand this includes a ban on the promotion of breastmilk substitutes, including follow-on formula. This is in accordance with the Resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly and also helps your government to fulfil its commitments under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It is well known that the baby food industry promotes follow-on formulas in ways that undermine exclusive and prolonged breastfeeding. An advertising ban does not prevent mothers from obtaining the information they need from health workers, but it does help to ensure that advice is free of pressure from companies with a vested interest in increasing product sales.

I am very pleased to learn that the infants of Indonesia are being protected from the aggressive marketing practices of the baby food industry by this Regulation and look forward to its independent monitoring and enforcement.



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