public hearing on Nestlé's baby food marketing activities
22nd November 2000
: 9.00 - 12.30
Room ASP3G2, Altiero
de Spinelli Building, Rue Wierz, Brussels
The European Parliament
Development and Cooperation Committee has invited Nestlé,
IBFAN and UNICEF to present evidence to a public hearing on baby
food marketing on 22nd November.
global market leader, is one of the companies criticised by IBFAN
(the International Baby Food Action Network) for contributing
to the unnecessary death and suffering of infants by aggressively
marketing breastmilk substitutes in ways that violate the International
Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent,
relevant Resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly. Where
water is unsafe an artificially-fed child is up to 25 times more
likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child.
According to UNICEF, reversing the decline in breastfeeding could
save the lives of 1.5 million infants around the world every year.
be made by a legal expert from UNICEF's Nutrition Section, which
advises governments on interpretation of the International
Code and Resolutions, and The Network for Consumer Protection
in Pakistan, a member of IBFAN, which monitors the baby feeding
has been asked to present information on an audit it commissioned
earlier this year in response to evidence of malpractice from
Syed Aamar Raza, a former employee in Pakistan. An overview of
Aamar's documentary evidence, which exposes practices including
the bribing of doctors, was published as the report Milking
Profits by The Network last year.
IBFAN groups have registered
complaints using European Union measures which require European-based
enterprises to abide by the International Code in other
countries (Nestlé exports from the European Union). It is hoped
that the Development and Cooperation Committee will find ways
to make the complaint procedures more effective.
Mike Brady, Campaigns
and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action (the UK IBFAN group),
welcomed the hearings, arranged by Richard Howitt MEP, and said:
"The Code of
Conduct paper adopted by the European Parliament last year,
which calls for annual public hearings, has many measures which,
if implemented, will mean that companies from any sector can
be called to account if they break international standards anywhere
in the world."
Notes for editors
- To enter the European
Parliament Building it is necessary to be invited by an MEP.
The baby food issue is first on the programme for the special
meeting. The meeting will also look at the textile/sportswear
industry. A speaker on the UN Global Compact has also been invited,
but, according to the draft programme, no-one has been invited
to provide a critique of the initiative, such as a representative
of The Alliance for a Corporate-Free UN.
- For further information
contact Mike Brady or Patti Rundall at Baby Milk Action, 23
St. Andrew's Street, Cambridge, CB2 3AX. Tel: (01223) 464420.
Fax: (01223) 464417. E-mail: email@example.com
- The European Parliament
Development and Cooperation Committee report under which the
hearing has been called is 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. Richard Howitt MEP, who steered the report through
Parliament and has organised the hearings, can be contacted
for further information on: + 32 2 284 5477
- For further details
and for pictures for publication see the "codewatch"
and "resources" sections.
For information on IBFAN visit www.ibfan.org
For information on the UN Global Compact see Tangled up in Blue
- The International
Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was adopted
by the World Health Assembly in 1981 as a "minimum requirement"
to be implemented by Member States "in its entirety." Subsequent
Resolutions have addressed questions of interpretation and changes
in marketing practices and scientific knowledge.
- According to UNICEF,
reversing the decline in breastfeeding could save the lives
of 1.5 million infants around the world every year. In Pakistan,
26% of the population does not have access to safe water and
53% do not have access to adequate sanitation.
- Nestlé is the target
of a boycott in 19 countries because of its unethical and irresponsible
baby food marketing practices. In May
1999 the Advertising Standards Authority upheld all of Baby
Milk Action's complaints against a Nestlé anti-boycott advertisement
in which the company claimed to market infant formula "ethically
and responsibly." In 1995 Baby Milk Action was called on to
defend claims made in a boycott advertisement. The ASA found
in favour of Baby Milk Action. The claims were: "Over 4,000
babies die every day in poor countries because they're not breastfed.
That's not conjecture, it's UNICEF fact" and "They [Nestlé]
aggressively promote their baby milks, breaking a World Health
Organisation code of marketing."
- Marketing Week magazine
asked Marjorie Thompson of Saatchi & Saatchi how Nestlé
should respond to the bad publicity surrounding its baby food
marketing activities and reported (11th February 1999): "She
suggests the way to counteract the bad publicity is to go on
the offensive by using advertising showing the benefits of Nestlé's
financial contributions to charities..." (See Boycott