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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.

Read company responses received so far

Nestlé pushes infant formula in Botswana with outrageous claims


The leaflets shown here, found recently in Botswana, are fresh evidence of how Nestlé idealizes artificial infant feeding and undermines breastfeeding, whilst claiming it is a ‘trusted’ company.

(click here for large version of the cover).

“Growing is thirsty work” is the message on the front of this leaflet, feeding the idea that infants need additional fluids. In reality, breastmilk provides all the liquid an infant needs.

Note also how Nestlé is now using an enlarged and idealized image of its logo showing a bird feeding its chicks. This new logo has so far only appeared on infant feeding products.

The inside of the leaflet suggests the formula is equivalent to breastmilk (click here)


This Pelargon promotional leaflet claims inside that using Pelargon “diarrhoea and its side-effects are counteracted” (click here). The scientific evidence does not support this claim and even a member of Nestlé’s own Nutrition Institute disputes it (see the report in Update 31).

Where water is unsafe an artificially-fed infant is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child and to suggest formula counteracts diarrhoea is irresponsible.

(Click here for large version of the leaflet).

This leaflet was handed out on a public bus in Gaborone, Botswana in 2003. It suggests that Nestlé abides by the WHO Code and claims the company is “the most trusted name in nutrition for 130 years”.

Seeking direct contact with mothers, to distribute leaflets such as this or for any other reason, is banned by the Code. This pertinent fact is not mentioned on the leaflet nor is the ban on promotion in the health care system. In itself the leaflet is promoting Nan infant formula.

Nestlé claims that its own ‘auditors’ ensure no violations take place and its Chief Executive Officer boasts that he personally investigates any hint of a violation.

Suggested letter to 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 into the comment page on the Nestlé site).

Nestlé’s leaflets promoting its infant formula with slogans such as “Growing is thirsty work” and “diarrhoea and its side-effects are counteracted” demonstrate Nestlé’s contempt for the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly.

Another leaflet, promoting Nan and Lactogen infant formula, whilst claiming that Nestlé complies with the ‘WHO Code', has been distributed to members of the public in Botswana. Nestlé staff are prohibited from seeking direct or indirect contact with mothers.

Do the terms of reference for your so-called “auditors” permit the production and distribution of such leaflets? If so, why is this the case? If not, why have these leaflets been produced?

I call on you to stop such activities in Botswana and all other countries immediately.





Nestlé promises on ‘6 months’ do not stand up


Following demonstrations at Nestlé sites around the UK - the ‘Big Noise to Wake up Nestlé Management’ -Nestlé’s Head of Corporate Affairs wrote to Baby Milk Action with a Nestlé statement claiming it had changed the labels of its complementary food labels to comply with the requirement that these are not marketed for use before 6 months of age. This has been a requirement since the World Health Assembly adopted Resolution 47.5 in 1994 and it has taken a great deal of campaigning - coupled with the introduction of national legislation in many countries - to bring about this shift.

However, Nestlé’s claim to be ‘leading the way’ needs closer examination. UNICEF Hong Kong wrote to Nestlé on 29 May 2003:

“We were pleased to note from the headlines of your International Code Action Report that Nestlé is taking the initiative on 6-month labelling. It was therefore with some disappointment to see that Nestlé Hong Kong is still promoting complementary food from 4 months onwards... the Department of Health of the Hong Kong Government has followed the WHO recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life.”

Similar reports are coming in from other countries. For example, the IBFAN group in Bulgaria informed us that Nestlé has launched an advertising campaign in the June 2003 issue of "Baby" magazine promoting Nestlé Sinlac for use from 4 months of age (see left - click here for a large version of the advertisement).

The advertisement says: "Sinlac Baby Menu is a cereal for dietary uses with plant proteins, without gluten, lactose and milk proteins. For every baby over 4 months".

Closer inspection of Nestlé’s promise reveals that it will only abide by the 6 month requirement in countries of its own choosing - those where it is given no choice?


In India, where the government’s legislation requires that products are not labelled for use before 6 months of age, Nestlé’s new labels have appeared, but in the adverts the prominent age of use on the pack is obscured by placing it in a cartoon train carriage and the reference to 6 months appears only in small print (see left - click here for a large version of the full advertisement which appeared in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi on 18 May 2003).

Nestlé's new strategy appears to be to obscure the 'age of use' information and instead promote what it is calling its '1-2-3 feeding plan' using teddy bear figures representing stages of development.

Suggested letter to 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).

Despite claims made in a recent public relations offensive by your company, Nestlé continues to promote complementary foods for use before 6 months of age. This violates Resolution 47.5 of the World Health Assembly, adopted as long ago as 1994.

Your company’s misleading claims only damage your reputation further.

Please change your company’s marketing policies and practices immediately to comply.


Will Nestlé's competitors move on '6 months'?


Nestlé is claiming to have 'taken the lead' on changing the age of use specified on complementary foods to comply with requirements adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1994 and suggests other companies are not showing the same commitment. The evidence shows that Nestlé's promises do not stand up, but this is still an opportunity to put further pressure on its competitors. If Nestlé, the market leader and biggest violator of the marketing requirements, is giving ground, the other companies are more likely to do so. Baby Milk Action has been campaigning against violations by all companies for many years - for example, see the campaign on complementary food labelling on the April/May 2001 campaign sheet.

Write to the following Chief Executives whose companies continue to violate the Resolutions on complementary foods:

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.

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 (you can select the text below and cut and paste it into a word-processor or into the websites contact forms):

Nestlé claims that it is ‘taking the lead’ in complying with World Health Assembly Resolutions requiring that complementary foods are not marketed for use before 6 months of age.

It claims that other companies are not yet showing the same commitment.

Will you give a public undertaking to abide by the requirements of Resolution 47.5, adopted in 1994, as you have been repeatedly requested to do?



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