page was last updated on 1 December 2003.
keep writing to the companies concerned (background information,
contact details and suggested letters are given on the action
sheet). Please forward any responses you receive to us,
even if they are the same as the ones given here.
promises on '6 months' do not stand up.
claimed to be taking the initiative on 6-month labelling and
stated in its April 2003 Code "Action" report that
"Nestlé has completed label changes on complementary
foods to follow the six-month recommendation." Monitors
around the world soon announced that this was untrue. Indeed,
in some countries Nestlé has launched promotions for
complementary foods labelled for use from 4 months of age since
giving its promise. We asked you to write to Nestlé to
call on in to abide by its promise.
is mixed news contained in Nestlé's response. It will
still not change labels in Hong Kong to conform with Department
of Health requirements. But it says it has pulled its offending
advertisement in Bulgaria and claims it has applied stickers
to change the age of use given on labels there from 4 months
to 6 months. We have contacted our partners in Bulgaria to find
out if Nestlé is telling the truth. Many thanks to everyone
who wrote to Nestlé.
was the 19th country where national campaigners have launched
a boycott of Nestlé because of its baby food marketing
malpractice (see press
release 30 June 2000: Bulgarian Nestle boycott group aims
to stem flood of baby milk promotion).
has forced the world's largest food company to make changes.
We need to expose more cases in our successful Campaign for
Ethical Marketing. Unfortunately we are snowed under with work
at present and have had to cut back on staff hours due to shortage
of funds. Can you send us a donation to help with this work
or buy some of our merchandise? Visit
our on-line Virtual Shop.
responded to one of our supporters in an email on 23 September.
The relevant comments are included in their entirety below with
Baby Milk Action's comments shown [*thus*].
informing about the label changes in Nestlé's
WHO Code Action Report,edition 7 issued in late
April 2003, we also made clear that due to some
lead time in the distribution chain, in rare
cases there might be some delay some where before
products with new labels appear on the shelves,
or old products are not to be found anymore.
What is important is that we investigate allegations
of Code non-compliance whenever we can obtain
adequate information, and take action where
this issue, concerns have been raised about
our complementary products in Hong Kong and
in developed countries, which Hong Kong in all
respects qualifies as being, Nestlé follows
the policies recommended by the national authorities.
Hong Kong Department of Health is conducting
consultations with health professional associations
with a view to agreeing a general policy concerning
the age for introduction of complementary foods.
Nestlé Hong Kong will readily follow
that general policy. [*In May 2003, UNICEF
Hong Kong wrote in a letter to Nestlé:
"the Department of Health of the Hong Kong
Government has followed the WHO recommendation
of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months
of life." Why is Nestlé refusing
to follow the Deparment of Health's position?*]
in Bulgaria, Sinlac is an infant cereal speciality
for babies suffering from allergies to cow's
milk protein and soy protein. From the end of
June 2003 NO infant cereals in Bulgaria are
recommended from four months. "From six
months" stickers have been put on all products
previously recommended from four months. It
is confirmed that the SINLAC advertisement was
discontinued at the end of June. [*This,
if true, is 2 months after Nestlé claimed
that it had 'completed label changes' around
the world, two years after Resolution 54.2 which
Nestlé claims to be following and nine
years after Resolution 47.5, which stated complementary
feeding should be fostered from about 6 months.
This prevarication demonstrates Nestlé's
the above information will demonstrate to you
our commitment to endeavour to comply with the
WHO Code and/or national laws and guidelines
both in the developed and developing world,
our ultimate goal being the well-being of both
mother and infant. If you feel you need further
clarification please do not hesitate to get
in touch. I would like to send some further
information on this subject if you could forward
a postal address.
Senior Policy Adviser
Tel: 020 8 667 5888
Fax: 020 8 667 5440
pushes infant formula in Botswana with outrageous claims
Milk Action received the same comments on the labelling of complementary
foods as given above in a letter dated 30 September 2003, which
was received much later. It also addresses the violations in
Botwana exposed on the action sheet.
claims the leaflets found in Botswana were 'discontinued some
years ago', perhaps attempting to imply that the leaflets found
in the health clinics were there due to the health workers holding
on to them. Yet, Nestlé continues: 'We are, instead,
preparing new materials for health professionals...' If these
new materials are still being prepared then Nestlé's
representatives have only the 'discontinued' leaflets to distribute.
We will continue to monitor the situation. The Code states such
materials should be 'restricted to scientific and factual matters',
but Nestlé claims its new leaflets will have an 'increased
focus on the factual and scientific matters in these materials',
presumably leaving in some of the promotional messages prohibited
by the Code and Resolutions.
the leaflets given to bus passengers, Nestlé claims:
'These materials are handed only to distributors, not to the
general public. Moreover, none of these leaflets has ever been
used in Botswana.' This assurance is shown to be false by the
report from Botswana. It is disappointing that instead of acting
on the report of a violation and investigating how the leaflet
came to be distributed to members of the general public, taking
appropriate disciplinary action if necessary, Nestlé
simply denies it ever happened. Nestlé's Chief Executive,
Peter Brabeck, has said that he investigates 'any hint of a
violation' - clearly not the case.
full text of the letter, less the section quoted above, is as
to your e-mails setting out concerns about materials
in Botswana and Gaborone and our labelling of
complementary foods, and apologise for the delay
in responding to you.
leaflets for health professionals
line with the WHO Code Article 6.2, these leaflets
are handed over by our medical delegates to
health professionals only, never to the general
we continuously review and update the information
given to inform health professionals about the
properties of our products, taking into consideration
new scientific developments as well as the health
professionals' opinon on the literature provided,
the use of some of the leaflets you quote ("37%
in the shade") [**Baby Milk Action comment:
which by no stretch of the imagination could
be described as 'scientific and factual', now
or in the past**] were discontinued some
years ago. We are, instead, preparing new materials
for health professionals in Southern Africa
with increased focus on the factual and scientific
matters in these materials. [**Baby Milk
Action comment: The Code Article
7.2 says that information 'should be restricted
to scientific and factual matters.' Nestlé
appears not to understand the meaning of the
for the trade handed out on a public bus in
leaflet is part of a set of materials which
Nestlé uses to educate the distributors
and their salespeople in South Africa about
the restrictions stemming from the recommendations
of the WHO Code. With easy-to-understand pictures,
it shows concrete examples of marketing practices
which should be banned [**Baby Milk Action
comment: The Code prohibits all promotion of
breastmilk substitutes. Why does Nestlé
use the words 'should be banned' instead of
'are prohibited'? Nestlé, like all companies,
is required under Article
11.3 of the Code to ensure that its activities
at every level comply independently of government
materials are handed only to distributors, not
to the general public. Moreover, none of these
leaflets has ever been used in Botswana.
[**Baby Milk Action comment: It is disappointing
that Nestlé simply dismisses what we
know to be true without investigating how distribution
of the leaflets came to take place and taking
appropriate disciplinary action if necessary.
Chief Executive, Peter Brabeck, promises to
personally 'investigate any hint of a violation'
- clearly not the case.**]
it would not be sensible for any manufacturer
to promote its products to mothers, as you claim
Nestlé is doing, by handing them posters
showing their products being barred. [**Baby
Milk Action comment: What point is Nestlé
trying to make? Those who contact Nestlé
about its baby food marketing malpractice will
know that the company produces many materials
for the public in which it claims to abide by
the Code and Resolutions, some of which include
Head of Corporate Affairs
Nestlé's competitors move on '6 months'?
Pressure from the
boycott has brought about a significant change in policy from
Nestlé as it has said it will abide by World Health Assembly's
1994 requirement that complementary foods are not promoted for
use before 6 months of age. As global market leader its stated
change in position should make it easier for its competitors
to similarly change their policies. But will they do so, particularly
when Nestlé's practices and public relations statements
are two totally different things? Nestlé continues to
promote complementary foods for use from too early an age in
many countries as shown on the action sheet.
The suggested letter
to other companies was as follows:
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.
that other companies are not yet showing the same commitment.
give a public undertaking to abide by the requirements
47.5, adopted in 1994, as you have been repeatedly
requested to do?
refuses to make the changes required by the 1994 Resolution,
which stated that complementary feeding should be fostered from
about 6 months. It is interesting to recall why Heinz refused
to do so last time around, because its reasons have now changed.
we last campaigned on this in 2001, Heinz suggested (click
here for the text of its letter) that it could ignore the
1994 policy on the age of introduction of complementary foods
because WHO had also stated: "Infants should be fed
exclusively on breast-milk from four to six months of age."
suggested it would change its position if the policy on duration
of exclusive breastfeeding changed:
recent months, the World Health Assembly has recommended urging
members to 'support exclusive breast-feeding for six months.'
This is a somewhat revised position and has been submitted
for review and approval by member states.
advocates of the new WHA recommendation are eager for its
worldwide adoption and implementation by member states. Heinz
is a strong supporter of the work of WHO to promote global
standardization for infant feeding and will comply immediately
with a new, revised Resolution 47.5 upon its adoption by member
ignored the fact that Resolution
54.2 was indeed adopted by Member States, stressing the
policy of promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6
months. This policy has been introduced by many countries around
the world, including the UK.
latest response (dated 19 June 2003) Heinz only refers to the
situation in the UK (though the question concerned global policy).
It is now shifting its position, stating that the adoption of
policy on exclusive breastfeeding is not enough, as "we
are not aware of any new recommendations for those mothers who
choose to bottle feed."
is no evidence that introducing complementary food before 6
months of age is a benefit to any child (bottle-fed or breastfed),
but there is significant evidence that it is a risk. Please
continue writing to Heinz about its failure to comply to World
Health Assembly policy in the UK and elsewhere.
response received from Heinz is reproduced below in its entirety.
Baby Milk Action's comments are shown [*thus*].
Department of Health Advice on Baby Feeding
you for your recent enquiry about weaning and
advice about the introduction of complementary
fully supports the Department of Health's advice
that breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition
for babies. [*THE QUESTION WAS ABOUT IMPLEMENTATION
OF RESOLUTION 47.5 GLOBALLY, NOT UK POLICY*]
new advice (issued 12 May 2003) also recommends
exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months
before the introduction of weaning foods, with
continued breastfeeding thereafter.
Official advice prior to this announcement has
been to recommend weaning between four to six
months to support infant nutrition for breastfed
babies but we are not aware of any new recommendations
for those mothers who choose to bottle feed.
[*THE UK GOVERNMENT, LIKE MANY OTHERS, WAS
BRINGING POLICY ON EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING INTO
LINE WITH RESOLUTION 54.2*]
change in infant feeding policy has implications
for parents, health professionals and industry,
however, unfortunately the Department of Health's
announcement of this new recommendation was
made without prior warning or consultation with
all interested parties. [*RESOLUTION 54.2
WAS ADOPTED THROUGH THE DUE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS
OF THE WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY AFTER AN EXPERT
PANEL CONSIDERED OVER 3,000 STUDIES ON THE AGE
OF INTRODUCTION OF COMPLEMENTARY FOODS*]
alongside other baby food companies and healthcare
professionals, will look to work with the Department
of Health and the Food Standards Agency on the
best way forward in providing a clear and consistent
message on baby feeding with respect to labelling
and all information materials.
Consultant to Heinz