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Nestlé's claim to be working with the IBFAN Africa Coordinating Office is untrue - please do not be deceived

24th October 2001

Baby Milk Action is concerned to learn that Nestlé has claimed it is working in partnership with the IBFAN Africa Coordinating Office. The true situation is set out by the IBFAN Africa Coordinator, Pauline Kisanga, below.

Nestlé's deception demonstrates why companies are keen to call for meetings, while bringing nothing constructive to them.

To whom it may concern,

I would just like to share an experience we had in the regional office-IBFAN Africa with Nestle South Africa.

Mr. Nick Partington, Manager, Medical and Scientific Affairs, of Nestle South Africa phoned our office many times wanting some clarifications on the code and asking to meet us.

We asked them to write and explain the purpose of such a meeting. They did as shown below:

"-Baby food company marketing practices in South Africa,
-Who code monitoring
-signatorry to who code
-meeting with stakeholders and interested parties"

After much deliberation we agreed to meet with them and invited our local partner, SINAN as well. Our aim was to register our concern to Nestle for all the ills it is doing in the region, particularly its new strategy of face to face promotion of infant formula, in southern African countries.

We have official minutes of the meting, which we have filed and sent to the INBC [International Nestlé Boycott Committee] secretariat [housed at Baby Milk Action].

We told Nestlé in no uncertain terms that : code monitoring must remain independent:

This means that industries must monitor their own practices while the government and consumers do the same - independently of each other.

Guess what Nestle did next? Nestle's Nick Partington, went to UNICEF South Africa, some weeks after meeting with us, and told them that they had discussed with their "partners" IBFAN Africa about the need to monitor the code in partnership, and requested UNICEF South Africa to facilitate Nestle participation in the process of national code development that is now going on in South Africa. Because UNICEF heard that Nestlé had already met with us, they agreed to Nestle’s request. I was informed about this meeting and how Nestlé had used their meeting with IBFAN to persuade the UNICEF Representative to agree to facilitate their participation in the South Africa national process of code development.

When I found out what Nestle had said about us I immediately wrote to UNICEF South Africa and other UNICEF offices refuting it and urging them not to allow Nestle to visit them.

I warned that they may be falling into a trap and that Nestle was being dishonest when they call us "partners".

So how can IBFAN meet with Nestle? Even if you record what you discuss, a meeting between IBFAN and Nestle would be such good image building for Nestle and we might lose much of our credibility. Nestle will never quote the true content of such a meeting, instead they will end up quoting that meeting anywhere they go, pretending to be our partners. Take it from me and learn from us. Let us not give them such a free treat.

Pauline Kisanga
IBFAN Africa Coordinator
24th October 2001



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