to UK Advertising Standards Authority over marketing of hypoallergenic
Press Release - 28
here to download as a pdf file for easy printing
the worlds largest food company, has been reported
to the UK Advertising Standards
Authority (ASA) over its marketing of Nan HA hypoallergenic
infant formula for using claims that Baby Milk Action describes
as misleading and dangerous.
was taken by authorities in the US over similar claims after
infants suffered anaphylactic shock after being fed on the
formula and Nestlé is prohibited from using the hypoallergenic
claim there. The
dictionary definition of hypoallergenic is having
little likelihood of causing an allergic response
provides a grant to cover the costs of 'Masterclasses'
run by the charity Allergy UK and had the above stand
at an Allergy UK event in July 2004, where pamphlets claiming
Nan HA has 'proven efficacy in the reduction of allergic
reactions' were distributed. Click
here for a large version (photo credit: Baby Milk
advertisement for Nan HA in the British Journal of Midwifery,
July 2004, is headlined 'Nan HA, the starter infant formula
of choice that significantly reduces the risk of allergy'.
Nan HA is described as hypoallergenic, a claim
that is prohibited in North America because it is without
scientific substantiation and is considered to be deceptive
or misleading. Nestlé claims in the advertisement that
the 'exclusive use of a hydrolysed formula is recommended'to
reduce the risk of developing an allergy. Nan HA is not a
hydrolysed formula, but a partially hydrolysed
formula, which is a very different product. The Food Standards
Authority has warned against using partially hydrolysed formula
with allergic infants because of the risk of a reaction (click
here for a large version
(photo credit: Baby Milk Action).
When Nan HA was first
launched in the UK, nine leading health bodies (see notes) wrote
to the Minister of Health about the potential risks to health
of the claims made in the name of the product and the accompanying
promotion materials. Nestlé said it would add warning labels
to products stating 'may cause an allergic reaction if given
to an infant with diagnosed allergy to cows milk. Do not
use to feed an infant who is allergic to cows milk.'
The first part of this warning is missing from the advertisment,
which suggests health workers call Nestlé for further information
on Nan HA. No warning at all appears in the information materials
provided to health workers. The information materials suggest
Nan HA is superior to breastfeeding by, for example, claiming
it provides optimal brain and visual development and
optimal bone mineralisation.
In considering the
advertisement and the material provided to health workers, the
ASA has been asked to rule on a leaflet provided alongside the
Nan HA material entitled Nestlé and the marketing
of infant formula which contains claims similar to those
discredited in an earlier ruling.
Patti Rundall, OBE,
Policy Director of Baby Milk Action said:
know if the ASA will take up the case, but we have asked it
to take immediate action to stop this misleading and dangerous
promotion while it investigates. In the last case we took to
the ASA about Nestlés untrue claims over its marketing
of breastmilk substitutes in developing countries the ASA took
2 years to uphold all of our complaints as Nestlé repeatedly
appealed. The European Commission is currently revising the
rules on claims that can be made about foods. Since the UK Government
professes to be concerned about misleading claims and about
the low levels of breastfeeding, it should urge the Commission
to ban these claims throughout the European region.
For further information
contact: Mike Brady, Baby Milk Action.
UK Tel: 01223 464420 - Mobile: 07986 736179 firstname.lastname@example.org
Patti Rundall mobile:
Notes for editors
Scans of the materials
are available from Baby Milk Action.
Standard Agency states on its website: "If your
baby is diagnosed with a cows milk allergy, your GP
might prescribe hydrolysed milk formula for her. You
shouldnt give her partially hydrolysed formula
or soya formula without consulting your GP, because babies
with cows milk allergy might react to these types of
formula.[emphasis added]." Nestlé Nan HA is
a parially hydrolysed formula, promoted as hypoallergenic.
Brittanica on-line dictionary defines hypoallergenic
as having little likelihood of causing an allergic
The Health Groups
who have written to the Minister are: Association of Breastfeeding
Mothers, Association of Radical Midwives, Baby Milk Action,
Breastfeeding Network, Food Commission, La Leche League, Midwives
Information and Resource Service, National Childbirth Trust
and UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative (see Baby Milk Action
press release 2 August 2002).
on health claims and policies from Baby Milk Action and the
International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) can be found
Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was adopted
by the World Health Assembly in 1981 as a minimum requirement
to be implemented in its entirety by all countries.
11.3 manufacturers and distributors of products within
the scope of the Code are required to ensure their activities
at every level comply, independently of government measures.
Subsequent Resolutions address questions of interpretation
and changes in scientific knowledge and marketing practices.
Company policies are very different from the Code and Resolutions,
for example, referring only to infant formula. In the latest
monitoring report produced by the International
Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) Breaking
the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2004, containing results
from 69 countries, Nestlé was found to be responsible
for more violations than any other company. For this reason
and its leading roll in opposing government implementation
of the Code and Resolutions, Nestlé is the target of
a boycott in 20 countries.
On 12 May 1999
the Advertising Standards Authority upheld all of Baby Milk
Actions complaints against a Nestlé anti-boycott
advertisement in which the company claimed that it markets
infant formula ethically and responsibly (See
Boycott News 25). The ruling provoked an angry response
from Nestlé Chief Executive, Peter Brabeck Letmathé,
who held a press conference in the UK prior to its official
announcement to lambast his critics, including the UN Childrens
Fund (UNICEF) (see Mr Nestlé gets angry - Independent
on Sunday, 9 May 1999). Nestlé UKs Head of Corporate
Affairs retired within a month of Mr. Brabecks visit
and it is believed that the UK subsidiary was instructed to
launch baby foods on the UK market and not to be scared off
by the strong support for the boycott. The first attempt ,which
began with the launch of the Junior range of foods for infants
over one year of age using logos used for products for younger
children, became a public relations disaster for the company
as health campaigners denounced a fruit bar with a higher
sugar content than a kit-kat and a biscuit containing sesame
seeds, a known allergen. The products were removed from the
market. The UK baby milk market is valued at £150 million
per year and that of complementary foods at £157 million.
In July 2003,
Graham Crawford, Chair of the UK industry body, the Infant
and Dietetic Food Association, claimed that UK regulations
on the marketing of baby milks are making it difficult for
Nestlé to enter the market and called for them to be
scrapped. Mr. Crawford was appearing in court over illegal
advertisements placed by Wyeth/SMA in parenting magazines.
Wyeth was convicted of a cynical and deliberate breach
of the regulations (see Update
Health Assembly discussed infant and young child nutrition
at its meeting during the week of 17 May. Enterobacter Sakazakii
contamination of powdered formula and the long-term health
disadvantages of artificial feeding are key issues the industry
did not wish to be addressed. Surveys, following the death
of an infant in Belgium from meningitis attributed to contaminated
Nestlé formula, have found a surprisingly high proportion
of tins of formula are contaminated during the manufacturing
process after pasteurisation. At its recent AGM, Nestlé
refused to unilaterally provide warnings on its labels (see
Baby Milk Action press release
22 April 2004).