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Former Nestlé Pakistan employee blows whistle on institutionalised malpractice

18th February 2000

A former Nestlé employee, Syed Aamar Raza, has provided documentary evidence of the institutionalised methods used by Nestlé to push its baby food products in Pakistan. A new report, Milking Profits, is based on this evidence and was launched in the UK by Baby Milk Action on 15th February 2000. The report exposes:

        • bribes given to doctors,
        • setting of sales quotas for marketing staff,
        • payment of incentives to marketing staff,
        • provision of free supplies of breastmilk substitutes,
        • direct marketing to mothers.

All of these activities violate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and other measures adopted by the World Health Assembly to protect infant health. Where water is unsafe, a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child. In Pakistan, 26% of the population does not have access to safe water and 53% do not have access to adequate sanitation (Refs: UNICEF).

Mr. Raza sent a Legal Notice to Nestlé in an attempt to stop the company's marketing malpractice and claims that Nestlé responded with threats and offered him money to keep silent. He has decided to continue with his campaign and provided his evidence to an organisation in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) called The Network - Association for Rational Use of Medication in Pakistan.

The Network has published Milking Profits based on Mr. Raza's evidence.

Baby Milk Action is stocking Milking Profits for sale at £5.50 inc. p&p. in the UK (visit the Baby Milk Action Virtual Shop) and is arranging speaking engagements on Mr. Raza's behalf while he is in the UK to publicise his evidence.

For further information contact: Mike Brady, Baby Milk Action, 23 St. Andrew's Street, Cambridge, CB2 3AX. Tel: 01223 464420 Fax: 01223 464417

Some news reports on the Internet:

British Medical Journal, 18th February 2000

The Times, 16th February 2000

Western Mail, 16th February 2000

Notes for Editors:

  1. Baby food companies are required to abide by the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly. The Assembly is the policy setting body of the World Health Organisation. These measures are not enforceable, unless adopted in national legislation. Nestlé has been opposing this in Pakistan since at least 1992. A draft law is presently with the new administration in Pakistan, but has still not been passed.

  2. The evidence contained in Milking Profits substantiates evidence found by monitoring in 33 cities in Pakistan and published as the report Feeding Fiasco in March 1998. Evidence from around the world continues to demonstrate that Nestlé is violating the marketing requirements in a systematic manner. Further details are available from Baby Milk Action (also see the codewatch section on the website).

  3. Mr. Raza asked the World Health Organisation in January 1998 to assist him in pursuing his legal action against Nestlé. WHO responded: "legal actions against such cases can only be proceeded by the Government, because WHO has only an advisory role..." As the International Code has not yet been implemented in legislation, Mr. Raza felt compelled to publicise his evidence to prompt change and protect the infants of Pakistan. It has taken him time and effort to put his family into hiding and to find the means to travel to Europe.

  4. The report Milking Profits has already been launched in Germany and Pakistan. The German launch of Milking Profits coincided with an article in Stern, including pictures taken in Pakistan which may be purchased for publication from the syndication agency Picture Press GmbH. For details of pictures contact Mrs. Repp-Gulow of Picture Press GmbH on +49 40 3703 2572. Baby Milk Action has no connection with the agency nor responsibility for the pictures. ZDF television in Germany has film of Mr. Raza in Pakistan, which has not yet been broadcast. Footage may be available. Contact Baby Milk Action for further details.

  5. Richard Howitt MEP raised questions in the European Parliament in January 2000 about Nestlé's baby food marketing activities in Pakistan and elsewhere, asking the Commission to take action. Mr. Howitt is arranging for public hearings into the baby food industry, scheduled for June.

  6. Nestlé has attempted to divert attention from the evidence by alleging that Mr. Raza attempted to blackmail the company. Mr. Raza denies this, saying his life was threatened by Nestlé and he was offered money. Baby Milk Action position is the evidence provided by Mr. Raza should be examined in its own right and that the blackmail allegation is a separate issue. While the blackmail allegation is a legal matter between Mr. Raza and Nestlé, Baby Milk Action has been asking Nestlé to substantiate its allegation for the past year and hasn't received a response.
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