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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

How Nestlé uses the 'breast is best' notice to endorse its breastmilk substitutes

Violation Reference


Labels of infant formula


The International Code is 20 years old. Article 9.2 relates to labelling of infant formula and requires the words "Important Notice" and:

  • a statement on the superiority of breastfeeding;
  • a statement that the product should only be used on the advice of a health worker;
  • instructions for appropriate use;
  • a warning against the hazards of inappropriate preparation.

Article 9.2 also states: "Neither the container nor the label should have pictures of infants, nor should they have other pictures or text which may idealize the use of infant formula."

Nestlé has removed baby pictures from its infant formulas and in most countries does not use the cartoon figures used by some of its competitors. Generally its infant formulas are portrayed in a more serious manner, as befits the image Nestlé is attempting to present of a 'nutrition' company.

Nestlé also complies with the 'Breast is best' statement requirement, but in many countries it adds text. The message it attempts to portray becomes in effect: 'Breast is best and this formula is similar to breastmilk so it must be good'.

For example: Breast is best and...

  • Nativa 1 (Côte d'Ivoire): "Its composition is based on mother's milk."
  • Lactogen 1 (Ghana): "Composition is based on that of breastmilk."
  • Nan (Mexico): "Based on mother's milk."
  • Nan (Uruguay): "Composition qualitatively and quantitatively based on mother's milk."
  • Nidina 1 (Italy): "Similar to mother's milk."
  • Good Start (Canada) is the "next best alternative to breastmilk"
  • Good Start (USA) is "100% whey protein, the primary type of protein in breastmilk" and the "ideal formula choice to bring out the best in your baby."

The above data comes from IBFAN's international monitoring project (see the report Breaking the Rules 2001, available from Baby Milk Action's Virtual Shop).

Other idealising statements (which neglect to mention the factors the formula is lacking) include:

  • Nan HA (Mexico): "Can be used from birth since it contains all nutrients required by the infants for adequate growth."
  • Nestogen (Russia): "Provides all essential vitamins and minerals." and Nan (Russia): "Mothers trust Nestlé."

Suggested letter to the man responsible: Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, CEO, Nestlé S.A., Av. Nestlé 55, CH-1800 Vevey, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 21 924 2813.


Article 9.2 of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes sets out requirements for the labelling of infant formula.

Nestlé's companies around the world generally include the required text and warnings but then violate the Code by adding other statements which idealise the product. These statements often suggest the product is "similar to breastmilk" and, as everyone knows, "breastmilk is best for babies". This turns the required 'important notice' into a promotion for the product.

I would be interested to receive a copy of Nestlé's internal instructions which presumably tell your staff to add these idealising statements when they design labels. Or, if the instructions forbid such statements (as they should), perhaps you can explain why the statements appear in so many countries.

I also call on you to instruct your companies to immediately remove products with such statements from the market and to comply fully with Article 9.2 of the International Code when producing replacement labels.


Wyeth - Breaking the Rules 2001

Violation Reference
Widespread and systematic violations


In the new IBFAN international monitoring report, Breaking the Rules 2001 (BTR - available in the Baby Milk Action Virtual Shop), Wyeth receives almost as damning a score card as Nestlé for its violations of the marketing requirements (Wyeth does not produce complementary foods and so did not break the articles relevant to these).

Just a few examples from BTR:

  • In Taiwan and Bolivia, company reps visit mothers at health facilities and homes to give information on infant feeding and recommend products.
  • In Taiwan, the company uses baby clubs to contact mothers, offering them free samples of S-26 infant formula, S-26 gift bags and gifts such as bottles, bibs, toys and towels.
  • Company reps contact mothers by telephone in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mexico.
  • In Bolivia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan and the UAE, the company distributes promotional materials such as booklets, magazines and posters in a variety of ways: by mail in the UAE; left on counters at health facilities and at a mothers' club in Hong Kong; and at a baby expo called "Bebe y Yo" in Mexico.
  • The company has produced promotional materials with the following titles:
    • "Wyeth Gold Millennium Baby 26" in Hong Kong. The leaflet advertises a lucky draw for a gold carrot-shaped pendant for babies born on the 26th of each month.
    • A leaflet titled "The Best start Éstarts from here" promoting S26 Gold in Hong Kong.
    • "And the little Princess livedÉ" for the brand SMA Progress in the magazine Mother and Baby in the UAE.
    • A leaflet called "A special closeness" promoting S-26 in the UAE.

In the UK an advertisement in the July 2001 issue of Prima Baby magazine (pictured right) begins: "It's generally accepted that breast feeding is best for your baby. But if for some reason you can't, or choose not to breastfeed, there are important facts you need to know to ensure that your precious new baby is getting the next best feed to breast milk".

The advertisement promotes Wyeth's SMA brand and suggests parents phone its "careline" for further information.

"Giving your baby a better start", "And with everything else to get right, it's great to know that your bottle fed baby is getting the best ever start in life."

Click on the advertisement above to see how far Wyeth has gone in idealising its SMA infant formula.

Abbott Ross and Mead Johnson (the rest of the 'big four') also score badly in BTR, but we are increasingly concerned about Wyeth's activities globally and particularly in southern Africa. We are investigating launching a high profile campaign against Wyeth and wish to first give the company an opportunity to respond positively to the BTR report and to a letter writing campaign.

Suggested letter to the man responsible: Mr. John R Stafford, CEO, Wyeth, PO Box 8616, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19101, USA. Fax: +1 610 688 6228.


The monitoring report, Breaking the Rules 2001, demonstrates that Wyeth continues to breach the International Code and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly in a systematic manner.

This report has been passed to you by IBFAN via IFM.

Will you please inform me of the action you are taking to bring your company's baby food marketing policies and practices into line with the marketing requirements.




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