The Government of the United States only signed up to the International Code and Resolutions in 1994 and has done little to implement them. For a time the industry abided by a voluntary ban on advertising in agreement with the American Academy of Pediatricians. This collapsed when Nestlé entered into the market, refused to abide by the ban and sued the companies involved in the agreement for restrictive practices (Nestlé lost the court case).
Now advertising is widespread - along with free samples, money off coupons and other promotional schemes. Baby Milk Action's work with our partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) has been instrumental in the introduction of controls on the industry in a growing number of countries. Until the Government of the United States is prepared to stand up to the transnationals in the same way, your letters are needed to put pressure on the companies involved.
The advertisement shown above appeared in the April issue of Parents in the USA and is for Nestlé infant formula. The text says: "The Nestlé Carnation Baby Loves to sleep. Loves to smile. Never heard of fussy... And Good Start digests more like breastmilk in a baby's tummy than the leading formula. No wonder Kim's so happy. Not to mention mom & dad! To learn more about Carnation Good Start from Nestlé call [freephone number]. Or visit our website at www.carnationbaby.com." (This site violates the International Code and Resolutions - why not visit it and see how it promotes breastmilk substitutes and then send a message of complaint.)
Advertising of breastmilk substitutes is banned by the International Code (Article 5.1). Even though Nestlé's advertisement states, "And remember, breastmilk is the ideal food for babies. Talk to your doctor about your feeding choice" the text falls far short of the requirements for educational materials. Article 4.2 states these should include information on the hazards of infant formula, the negative effect on breastfeeding of partial bottle-feeding and the difficulty of reversing a decision not to breastfeed.
Nestlé Carnation's advertising slogan is "Bring out the very best in your baby." Our work has helped to put an end to such advertising in most countries.
Ask Nestlé why it fails to abide by the International Code and Resolutions so blatantly in the United States. These measures apply to all countries.
Wyeth (a subsidiary of American Home Products and known as SMA in the UK) has an advertisement for Parent's Choice infant formula in the April issue of Parenting in the United States. Headlined "Scary isn't it?" it suggests that advice about infant feeding is confusing. While it states, "breastfeeding is considered best" it adds that Parents Choice formula contains everything a child needs "to reach her considerable potential." The increased risk of diabetes, allergies etc. is not mentioned.
Write to Wyeth and ask why it fails to abide by the International Code and Resolutions so blatantly in the United States. These measures apply to all countries.
Over the past few months Nestlé has attempted to undermine implementation of the International Code and Resolutions in a number of countries. It was the turn of Uruguay at the end of April.
Nestlé Uruguay General Manager, W. Koch, wrote to the Director of Health requesting a meeting to discuss strategy for the forthcoming World Health Assembly (WHA). Every two years the WHA examines the state of implementation of the International Code and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the Assembly and adopts a new Resolutions addressing questions of interpretation, new marketing strategies and changes in scientific knowledge.
Nestlé has opposed the implementation of the subsequent Resolutions and stated in its letter that since 1981, "there have been constant attempts, with a clear anti-industry bias, to widen the scope of this Code..." Nestlé argues against further Resolutions and states that in Uruguay, "we believe it would be most appropriate that the Code, as published by WHO in 1981, be adopted by law or ministerial decree..."
Ask Nestlé to support the full implementation of the International Code and Resolutions in Uruguay.
A great deal of time and money is spent developing marketing strategies. The violations of the International Code and Resolutions revealed on these sheets to not occur by accident.
INCommunication, the confidential, internal newsletter of Dumex, a brand owned by the Danish East Asiatic Company (EAC), provides an illuminating insight as marketing staff share their ideas for achieving "impressive growth in the increasingly challenging industry." Examples include:
Ask EAC if its supports the International Code and Resolutions and, if so, why does it encourage its staff to violate these measures so blatantly in its INCommunication internal newsletter.