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Demonstrators gather at Nestlé HQ at the end of National Breastfeeding Week

News Peg: 22nd May 1999

A demonstration will take place at Nestlé (UK) HQ in Croydon on 22nd May at 11.00. This annual event raises awareness of Nestlé's unethical and irresponsible marketing of baby foods. Nestlé continues to market its products in ways which violate a marketing code adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981, despite the fact that UNICEF has said reversing the decline in breastfeeding could save the lives of 1.5 million infants around the world every year. Nestlé's marketing malpractice is to be investigated by the European Parliament in public hearings due to commence later this year.

The demonstration will take place at Nestlé's (UK) headquarters, Park Lane, Croydon, Surrey and is organised by the Baby Milk Action London Group. Campaigners will gather at 11.00 am for one hour and will present petitions calling on Nestlé to abide by the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly. As well as coinciding with the end of National Breastfeeding Week, the demonstration celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of the marketing code.

Campaign supporters will also be highlighting Nestlé's record of unethical and irresponsible marketing of breastmilk substitutes at Nestlé shareholder AGM in Vevey, Switzerland, on 3rd June.

Notes for editors

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

  2. Evidence of Nestlé's marketing malpractice can be viewed on Baby Milk Action's web-site. (See the Campaign for Ethical Marketing.

  3. Public hearings are due to commence at the European Parliament later this year as MEPs act on the report entitled: EU standards for European Enterprises operating in developing countries: towards a European Code of Conduct. It was adopted by the Parliament on 15th January 1999.

  4. On 12th May 1999 the Advertising Standards Authority published a ruling upholding all of Baby Milk Action's complaints about a Nestlé advertisement. Nestlé had claimed that it markets infant formula "ethically and responsibly." Richard Howitt MEP, who steered the above report through the European Parliament, called for Nestlé to be one of the first companies investigated and said: "The ASA finding blows apart Nestlé's pretence that it is acting responsibly in developing countries."

  5. The Nestlé boycott first began in 1977 and today is active in 18 countries (it is estimated that the boycott had cost Nestlé US$1,070 million by 1984 - Ref: N Comme Nestlé, Jean Claude Buffle). It is the UK's most popular consumer boycott according to a survey by Ethical Consumer Magazine (December 1997). The Liberal Democrats adopted a motion supporting the boycott and the marketing code at their Edinburgh Conference this year. The International Nestlé Boycott Committee has a standing agreement to meet with Nestlé should the company having something meaningful to put forward to demonstrate a change in its policy and practice.

  6. Nestlé is the target of boycott action because it controls about 40% of the baby milk market and is the largest single source of violations of the International Code and Resolutions. Nestlé also takes the lead in attempting to undermine government implementation of these measures.
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