Email update 4 September 2016
Wining and dining: health workers invited to Nestlé Swiss HQ to hear about formula
Would your health worker accept an overseas trip, complete with vineyard tour and dinner, from a formula company? Would you, if you are a health worker?
Formula marketing practices in the UK have become more aggressive since Nestlé took over the SMA brand in 2012. It recruited a network of Clinical Representatives tasked with gaining "brand endorsements" and "opportunities for the SMA brand and Nestlé Nutrition" by targeting health workers, particularly "opinion leaders".
When pregnant women and parents look to health workers for support they need to know they are independent. How independent will they be if they take up an offer for a three-day trip to Switzerland to learn about Nestlé's new SMA Pro formula?
As we see in other countries, the event appears to be more of an opportunity to wine and dine opinion leaders - literally, as the middle day of the programme involves a free afternoon and a trip to a vineyard for dinner.
Nestlé has also recruited parenting bloggers to promote its new formula. Its Public Relations company has press released information, suggesting journalists interview a celebrity television doctor.
Nestlé is promoting its new formula as having "protein profile closer to breastmilk". It made EXACTLY the same claim about its previous product, but has since told health workers that babies fed on it had "protein intake in excess of requirements”.
Health workers and parents need independent, objective information, free from commercial pressure.
Find out more about these and other practices in our new report: UK Monitoring 2016.
This includes analysis of how the UK leaving the European Union will impact on the regulation of formula marketing - and action that politicians can take.
If you have been approached by a Clinical Representative - or find that your health worker has - please let us know.
Vote at AGM by UK paediatricians to refuse formula company sponsorship must be confirmed by full membership of RCPCH
Members of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) voted to refuse funding from formula companies at their AGM on 27 April 2016. Nestlé was present at the Conference promoting its SMA formula.
The vote was welcomed in the UK and internationally.
However, the vote is only advisory to the RCPCH Council. Members are being given another chance to give their views in an online vote terminating on 6 September.
Those calling for an end to sponsorship by baby feeding companies and for an end to formula promotion at the conference and in RCPCH publications ask members to support OPTION 2 in response to all questions.
This is in line with the motion adopted at the AGM, which stated:
In order for RCPCH as a professional body to avoid institutional conflicts of interest and thus maintain its reputation as an unbiased, independent educator and advocate for child health, the College should decline any commercial transactions or any other kind of funding or support from all companies that market products within the scope of the WHO Code on the marketing of breast milk substitutes.
For further details, see:
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