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Nestlé Perrier Awards in Edinburgh provoke protest by human rights campaigners

30 August 2004

Baby Milk Action and Nestlé boycott supporters demonstrated outside the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh tonight (30 August), leafleting the audience arriving for the Perrier Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe to raise awareness of Nestlé's
aggressive marketing of baby foods. Nestlé bought Perrier in 1992 and past winnners of the Perrier Award such as Emma Thompson and Steve Coogan have called for a boycott of the Awards.

Click here for a high resolution version for printing. Photo credit: Baby Milk Action

(Photo caption) The audience for the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe was greeted by a giant puppet with a boycott Nestlé message and demonstrators. Mark Ballard MSP (in the red jacket above) was one of these distributing leaflets explaining how Nestlé aggressively markets baby foods, violating international standards and contributing to the unnecessary death and suffering of infants.

According to the World Health Organisation, 1.5 million infants die around
the world every year because they are not breastfed. A marketing code for
breastmilk substitutes was introduced in 1981 and Nestlé is found to violate
this more than any other company. It is not just baby milk that is an issue
with Nestlé. For example, successful legal actions have been brought
against Nestlé in the US and Brazil over the environmental impact of its
water bottling operations.

As Emma Thompson, a pre-Nestlé Perrier winner says:

"The Perrier Awards should be boycott by all right-thinking people, because Nestlé has got to be stopped."

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, which
coordinates the international boycott said:

"The latest evidence presented at the House of Commons in May this year shows Nestlé to be the worst of the baby food companies, putting its own profits before health and contributing to the needless death and suffering of infants around the world."

(see press release at for the Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2004 report).

For further information contact Mike Brady on 07986 736179.

The corporate-free alternative to the Perrier Award took place at the Bongo
Club on 29th August. The Tap Water Awards, launched in 2001,
honoured the best acts keeping to the true spirit of the fringe. Winners
included Mark Watson for his 'Overambitious 24 hour shows'. Awards were
presented by Mark Ballard MSP, Stewart Lee (co-author and director of 'Jerry
Springer the Opera') and others and were hosted by Dusty Limits. Further
information can be found at

Baby Milk Action will be holding a public meeting in Edinburgh on 23 October
to present the evidence. A campaigner from Brazil whose group was involved
in a successful legal action against Nestlé Perrier's damaging water
bottling operation in a historic mineral spring town will also be speaking
at the meeting. Nestlé has still not stopped its activities and campaigners
are seeking international solidarity to hold Nestlé to account. For information on Nestlé Perrier's damaging environmental impact in Brazil see the article in Corporate Watch at


  1. The International 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. Under Article 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. Monitoring demonstrates systematic and institutionalised violations of the Code and Resolutions as well as the companies’ narrower policies.

  2. The World Health Assembly is to discuss infant and young child nutrition at its meeting during the week of 17 May. At the preliminary World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board meeting in January 2004, the normal practice of preparing a draft Resolution to address current concerns was sidelined. Enterobacter Sakazakii contamination of powdered formula and the long-term health disadvantages of artificial feeding are key issues the industry does not wish to be addressed. Surveys, following the death of an infant in Belgium from meningitis attributed to contaminated Nestlé formula, have found a 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 press release 22 April).

  3. According to UNICEF: “Improved breastfeeding practices and reduction of artificial feeding could save an estimated 1.5 million children a year“ (State of the World’s Children 2001). This is equivalent to one needless death every 30 seconds.

  4. The Nestlé boycott is the best supported consumer action in the UK, according to Ethical Consumer Magazine. At last year’s demonstration, which takes place on the anniversary of the adoption of the Code, Baby Milk Action presented Nestlé with the Ethical Consumer reader’s award for being ‘Least Ethical Company’ (click here).

  5. After demonstrations at Nestlé sites in 2003, Nestlé’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Hilary Parsons, wrote to Baby Milk Action saying labels on complementary foods had been changed to give an age of use no younger than 6 months, a requirement since Resolution 47.5, adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1994. Although only one of the changes demanded of Nestlé by UNICEF and the World Health Assembly, this shows the value of continued and committed campaigning. Nestlé now ignores the fact it took 9 years of pressure before it made this change and claims it 'took the initiative'.


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