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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.

And please support a new move to make companies accountable for their actions:

Francexpa infant formula advertised in Palestine

Violation Reference
Advertisement for Sunny Boy infant formula
April 1999

One of the successes of the International Code and Resolutions has been stopping the advertising of infant formula. We are concerned, therefore, to find that an advertisement for Sunny Boy infant formula, manufactured by the French company Francexpa, has appeared in a newspaper in Palestine.

Key points for letters to Francexpa:

  • An advertisement for Francexpa's Sunny Boy infant formula appeared in the Al-Quds newspaper in Palestine on 3rd April 1999. Advertisements such as this are banned by Article 5.1 of the International Code. It is the companies responsibility to monitor its marketing according to the principles and aim of this Code and to appraise each member of their marketing personnel of the Code and of their responsibilities under it. Will Francexpa please investigate how this advertisement appeared in the newspaper and make sure all distributors of its products are aware of their responsibilities under the International Code?

Complain to
Articles violated include: Article 5.1 bans advertising. Article 11.3 says companies should monitor their marketing practices. Article 11.5 says companies should make their marketing staff aware of the Code and their responsibilities under it. Mr. Gaston Salvatori,
117 quai de Valmy,
75010 Paris,
Fax:+33 140 051750

Nestlé Cerelac promotion in Saudi Arabia, Samoa and India

Violation Reference
Labels and advertisements promoting use before 6 months of age
April 1999

Nestlé has been strongly criticised for the ways in which it promotes Cerelac, a cereal based food. For example, the Ministry of Health in Gabon told Nestlé that its promotional methods are a "flagrant violation" of the Ministry's requirements (see Campaign for Ethical Marketing April 1999). This month we wish to target Cerelac promotion in other countries.

Colleagues from the Breastfeeding Committee in the Al-Qassim Region of Saudi Arabia are calling on Nestlé to change Cerelac labels and advertisements which promote use from 4 months of age.

The same complaint about age of use has been made by the Ministry of Health in Samoa. We understand that Nestlé approached the Ministry for an endorsement of its marketing activities, but the letter it received is unlikely to be used in Nestlé's public relations materials. According to our information the letter (dated 21st April 1999) states:

"....In summary Nestlé marketing practices in Samao at the present time not only contravene the WHO Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and the subsequent WHA resolutions, but also seriously undermine the current nutrition education programme in Samoa which promotes exclusive breastfeeding to about six months.
"In light of the above comments I recommend that Nestlé stop marketing Cerelac until the packaging can be redesigned to comply with the WHO Code...
"Once again thank you for your invitation to comment on Nestlé marketing practices in Samoa."

On a more positive note, Nestlé has promised to change its posters for Cerelac in India after receiving a "Cease and Desist" notice and a one-week warning from an IBFAN group which has the power to file charges under the Indian Law (Nestlé's Managing Director in India already faces a prison sentence if convicted in a separate long-running case). The Cerelac posters do not include information required by the Act at present. We wait to see if the required changes are made without a court case - Nestlé has failed to live up to its promises in the past (see, for example, Campaign for Ethical Marketing action sheets for April 1998 and July 1998).

Key points for letters to Nestlé:

  • In November 1997 the Executive Director of UNICEF wrote to Nestlé saying: "we feel bound to adhere to the policy recommendations made by the World Health Assembly in Resolutions 47.5 (May 1994) in terms of which complementary feeding practices should be fostered from the age of about six months." Why does Nestlé continue to ignore this requirement in so many countries by promoting complementary food products, such as Cerelac, for use from before 6 months of age? Recently this violation has been highlighted in Saudi Arabia and Samoa. Will Nestlé do as requested by the Ministry of Health in Samoa and remove Cerelac from the market until the packaging is changed?
  • Nestlé includes comments from various countries in its current booklet Nestlé: Complying with the WHO Code. Will Nestlé withdraw this booklet and inform all those who have received it of the true situation, including the comments from Samoa and other countries which have asked Nestlé to stop violating the marketing requirements?
  • Can Nestlé confirm that it has changed its Cerelac posters in India to include information required by the Indian Infant Milk Substitutes Act and explain why it produced materials without this information? Does Nestlé believe it is appropriate to promote Cerelac with posters in India where illiteracy is high and there is evidence that some mothers use Cerelac in the mistaken belief that it is infant formula.

Complain to
Resolutions WHA 47.5 states that complementary feeding should be fostered "from the age of about 6 months." Nestlé promotes Cerelac for use from before this age, typically from the fourth month. Mr. Peter Brabeck,
CEO Nestlé,
55, av. Nestlé,
1800 Vevey,
Fax: 41 21 922 6334

Baby food industry to be investigated by European Parliament

In January the European Parliament adopted a Resolution calling for controls on European businesses operating in developing countries. Public hearings into key companies and industries are due to commence later this year. Richard Howitt MEP, who steered the Resolution through the Parliament, has called for Nestlé and the baby food industry in general to be amongst the first in the spotlight (see our press release 12th May 1999). Ideally, these hearings will lead to a Directive which will make companies answerable in the law courts in Europe if they break international standards on health, the environment and human rights.

This is an exciting development. Those familiar with the baby milk campaign will recall that in 1978 Nestlé was investigated at public hearings in the United States Senate and this helped to bring about the International Code.

Send a letter to your MEP (or, if you live outside the European Union, to Richard Howitt MEP, 13G113, 1047, European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium. Faxes can be sent to his UK office fax: +44 (0)1268 550700). Key points are:

  • The report EU standards for European Enterprises operating in developing countries: towards a European Code of Conduct is a welcome development. Measures covered by the report include the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and other Resolutions of the World Health Assembly. Given the evidence of on-going widespread violations of these measures by baby food companies based in Europe we hope the industry will be investigated as a matter of priority. UNICEF has stated that 1.5 million infant lives could be saved around the world every year by reversing the decline in breastfeeding.

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