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Weighing paperwork - FTSE4Good shifts the goal posts for the baby food companies

10 March 2004

The FTSE Group, the global stock market index provider, has announced that it is lifting its exclusion of baby food companies violating the World Health Assembly marketing requirements for baby milks. Seven companies had been excluded for malpractice including, Nestlé, Danone and Heinz. Following a ‘public consultation’ FTSE says it will instead use ‘measurable inclusion criteria.’ (see FTSE4Good website).

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:

The new FTSE4Good criteria for baby food companies basically appears to involve weighing how many documents the companies produce saying how ethical they are and reviewing audits paid for by the companies. I am aware of many health worker, consumer protection and other organisations who called for FTSE to strengthen its exclusion criteria. I have asked FTSE to provide information on who has called for a change to reviewing company policies and systems instead of focusing on outputs - the aggressive marketing practices - but they cannot tell me. FTSE has assured me that none of the companies currently meets the inclusion criteria. I imagine, this is because company policies are so out of step with World Health Assembly requirements. The ethical investment industry is a valuable ally in the campaign and we will provide evidence of malpractice if permitted to do so. Based on our over 20 years experience we know that trusting company statements alone would be a retrograde step.”

Baby Milk Action is releasing its response to the consultation which provides detailed arguments showing how the FTSE criteria proposed during the consultation devalues the FTSE4Good concept and will do little to protect the most vulnerable people on the planet: infants and young children (click here).

For further information contact:

Mike Brady, Campaigns Coordinator, Baby Milk Action on 07986 736179
Email: or Patti Rundall, Policy Director on 07760 287001.


1. The original criteria stated: “Companies must not have breached the infant formula manufacturing section of the International Code on Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes according to the International Baby Food Action Network [IBFAN]." Baby Milk Action is the UK member of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) which monitors company compliance with the International Code and Resolutions.

2. The new criteria states: "FTSE will establish a small Expert Committee, comprising academics and experts on the industry, which will review company reports to assess whether they adhere to the FTSE4Good criteria and to make recommendations to the FTSE4Good Policy Committee as to the continuing eligibility of companies."

3. The new criteria requirements for companies to have policies fully in line with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly means all companies will currently fail the criteria. The first step of Baby Milk Action's four-point plan put to Nestlé to save infant lives and ultimately end the boycott has the same requirement, which Nestlé has rejected.

4. IBFAN works for binding legislation, where it is the outcomes of company systems which demonstrate if the company is at fault - it is the aggressive promotion which contributes to unnecessary death and suffering and which must stop. The recent report Using International Tools to Stop Corporate Malpractice - Does it Work? examines progress in 7 case study countries (available at Where legislation has been introduced and is independently monitored and enforced, breastfeeding rates are increasing, which feeds through to reduced infant mortality and morbidity. Where the route of voluntary codes of conduct have been followed, malpractice remains widespread.

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