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Responses to the violations on the Campaign for Ethical Marketing
action sheet June 2007

This page was last updated on 23 June 2007.

Please 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.

Response to:

Response is awaited to:

  • Wyeth offensive in the Philippines.

Nestlé defends targeting mothers with infant formula leaflets in Bangladesh


The Guardian newspaper conducted an investigation of Nestlé in Bangladesh and found widespread distribution of pads of fliers for Lactogen infant formula to health workers for handing on to mothers. The International Code explicitely prohibits promotional materials for breastmilk substitutes, promotion of products through the health care system and states that educational and information materials cannot refer to products within the scope of the Code. Nestlé attempted to justify the promotional campaign in a letter published in the paper.

Our suggested letter to Nestlé was as follows:

Nestlé (UK) Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Hilary Parsons, has claimed that fliers for Lactogen infant formula distributed to mothers in Bangladesh are permitted.

In a letter responding to an investigation by The Guardian newspaper, she claimed "Giving information to health workers is permitted by the code", referring to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

However articles 4, 6.2, 6.3 and 7.2 make it clear that there should be no promotion of breastmilk substitutes to mothers within the health care systems and specifically that branded company materials cannot be distributed to health workers for passing on to mothers.

Please stop this blatant violation immediately, in Bangladesh and all other countries.


Baby Milk Action has not yet received a response from Nestlé. We have been sent the following reply received by a campaign supporter. Comments from Baby Milk Action appear [****like this****].



Dear ****,

Thank you for your recent e-mail.

I would refer you to Article 4.2 of the WHO Code which states:

"Informational and educational materials, whether written, audio, or visual, dealing with the feeding of infants and intended to reach pregnant women and mothers of infants and young children, should include clear information on all the following points:

(a) The benefits and superiority of breast-feeding.

(b) Maternal nutrition, and the preparation for, and maintenance of, breast- feeding.

(c) The negative effect on breast-feeding of introducing partial bottle-feeding.

(d) The difficulty of reversing the decision not to breast-feed.

(e) Where needed, the proper use of infant formula, whether manufactured industrially or home-prepared.

When such materials contain information about the use of infant formula, they should include the social and financial implications of its use, the health hazards of inappropriate foods or feeding methods and, in particular, the health hazards of unnecessary or improper use of infant formula and other breast-milk substitutes. Such material should not use any pictures or text which may idealize the use of breast-milk substitutes." [****Baby Milk Action comment: All very true, but Nestlé does not quote the relevant part of Article 4: "...Such equipment or materials may bear the donating companys name or logo, but should not refer to a proprietary product that is within the scope of this Code..." The fliers were for Lactogen formula, so if viewed as educational materials violate Article 4. Viewed as fliers for infant formula they violate Articles 5 and 6.***]

The campaign group Baby Milk Action has failed to refer to this article in the WHO Code which allows such information to be given by health professionals to mothers. [****Baby Milk Action comment: Untrue. The action sheet directly refers to Article 4 and links to the full text. We did not quote the part Nestlé gives above, we quoted the relevant text that such materials cannot refer to products - notably Nestlé does not quote this part of the article.****]

Please see More detailed information can be found on and for an update on our position in the marketing of baby milk. [****Baby Milk Action comment: The site is as misleading as Nestlé's response. See our briefing paper Nestlé's PR Machine Exposed and the Your Questions Answered section for some analysis.****]

Yours sincerely,

Beverley Mirando
Senior Policy Adviser


It is clear that Nestlé intends to continue to target mothers with promotional fliers for infant formula, distributed via health workers, as a matter of policy.

The journalist's eye-witness account from the wards in Bangladesh graphically shows the impact of such promotion.

For Baby Milk Action's Campaigns and Networking Coordinator's reflections on this see his blog.

A suggested follow-up message to Beverley Mirando for those who have received the above response follows. This can be cut and pasted into an email or word processor document.

In invoking Article 4.2, you are suggesting the Lactogen fliers are 'informational and education materials... Intended to reach pregnant women and mothers of infants and young children.'

Baby Milk Action did indeed quote the relevant part of Article 4, which states: "Such equipment or materials may bear the donating company's name or logo, but should not refer to a proprietary product that is within the scope of this Code, and should be distributed only through the health care system."

Your use of Article 4.2 to justify promoting product within the scope of the Code - Lactogen infant formula - simply demonstrates how cynical Nestlé is in trying to defend its pursuit of sales regardless of the provisions of the Code and the impact on mothers and infants.