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Exposés of Nestlé baby food pushing recreated on company’s doorstep

Press Release 19 May 2007

Campaigners gathering for the annual boycott demonstration at Nestlé (UK) HQ in Croydon (19 May 11:00 – 12:00) will be recreating the methods Nestlé uses to push its baby foods on health workers and mothers. The aim is to draw attention to Nestlé's continued violation of the World Health Assembly baby food marketing requirements adopted since 1981.


Mike Brady takes the role of a Nestlé Medical Delegate promoting Nestogen infant formula with 'Brain Building Blocks' to a health worker in front of Nestlé (UK) HQ.
Click here for hi-res version.

Monitoring conducted by Baby Milk Action and partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) finds Nestlé is responsible for more violations than any other company.

The stunt comes in UK National Breastfeeding Awareness Week. On Tuesday the Guardian newspaper published an eye-witness report from a journalist who found Nestlé materials for promoting formula to mothers in Bangladesh (click here). On Thursday UNICEF Philippines posted film clips on Youtube showing how companies, including Nestlé, target health workers and mothers there (click here). UNICEF has stated previously:

"Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute."


Tombstone on Nestlé's doorstep.
Click here for hi-res version

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, which is organising the stunt, said:

“We launched a campaign of international solidarity with the Philippines last year, which has helped to generate headlines in the Philippines and elsewhere. These companies are big advertisers and can use that to try to keep stories out of the media.

"Through our own monitoring we have examples of Nestlé promotional materials from the Philippines and elsewhere to illustrate how this company puts its own profits before infant health and mothers’ rights. It undermines breastfeeding and encouraging health workers and mothers to use formula. It does not give mothers who use formula the information they need to reduce risks of ill health and death. Where there is legislation this can be stopped, but the industry pushes for voluntary agreements so it can carry on with business as usual.”

In the Philippines the pharmaceutical industry has taken the Ministry of Health to court and succeeded in having new regulations blocked. Nestlé has claimed to support the regulations, but breaks the existing weaker measures, by, for example, giving gifts to health workers. It promotes formula as containing Brain Building Blocks suggesting infants will be more intelligent if fed on the formula. Violations have been stopped in countries with independently monitored and enforced legislation, but continue in many other countries without such measures.

Campaigners outside Nestlé (UK) HQ send a message of support to the Philippines: "Protect your infants and mothers. Health before profits. Good look with your campaigning!"

A short video of the event will be available shortly.

Message of support

Campaigners outside Nestlé with placards and a banner calling on people to boycott Nescafé coffee and other Nestlé products to put pressure on the company.
Click here for a hi-res version.
  • The World Health Assembly International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was introduced as a consequence of the first Nestlé boycott, which began on 4 July 1977, making this the 30th anniversary year. The boycott was relaunched as Nestlé did not bring policies and practices into line as it promised. Boycott groups have declared 2-8 July as International Nestlé-Free Week.

For further information call Mike Brady on 07986 736179.

Click here for Mike Brady's blog on the event, with more pictures.

Notes for editors

  • Pictures will be available on this page shortly after the event. For pictures from last year click here.

  • Nestlé is the target of the boycott as independent monitoring finds it is responsible for more violations the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions than any other company.

  • Baby Milk Action is a not-for-profit organisation and the UK member of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). It is funded by membership fees, merchandise sales and donations, along with grants from development organisations and charitable trusts.

  • The boycott of Nestlé focuses on Nescafé, its flagship product, but Baby Milk Action lists the brands from which Nestlé profits so boycott supporters can avoid them all. Guardian reported on 1 September 2005:

    "What do Nike, Coca Cola, McDonald's and Nestlé have in common? Apart from being among the world's most well-known brands, they happen to be the most boycotted brands on the planet. That finding came from this week's global GMIPoll, an online opinion poll that surveyed 15,500 consumers in 17 countries. Nestlé emerges as the most the most boycotted brand in the UK because of what respondents consider its "unethical use and promotion of formula feed for babies in third world countries."

  • Nestlé won a global internet poll for the world's 'least responsible company' coinciding with the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2005. Nestlé received 29% of the votes. This was more than twice that of joint second Monsanto and Dow Chemicals (of Bhopal infamy), each on 14% ( click here for details ).

  • For information on baby food marketing malpractice see the codewatch and boycott sections of this website. The Corporate Watch website has a detailed report on Nestlé.

  • According to the World Health Organisation, 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. See the Your Questions Answered section.

  • Nestlé is one of the companies targeted by Baby Milk Action November 2006 Campaign for Ethical Marketing action sheet, over its attempts to undermine legislation introduced in the Philippines to regulate the marketing of baby foods.


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