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Issue 31: July 2002

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Table of Contents


Baby Milk Action is a non-profit organisation which aims to save infant lives and to end the avoidable suffering caused by inappropriate infant feeding by working within a global network for independent, transparent and effective controls on the marketing of the baby feeding industry.

The global network is called IBFAN (the International Baby Food Action Network) a network of over 150 citizens groups in over 90 countries.

Boycott news 31 - the latest on the Nestlé boycott

Assembly challenges the food industry and commercial influence

A new strengthened Resolution on Infant and Young Child Nutrition (WHA 55.25) was adopted at the 55th World Health Assembly in Geneva in May.

Delegates from 38 countries spoke in the debate, the large majority of speakers from the developing world, calling for amendments to stress the critical importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and to ensure that infant feeding programmes are not funded by the baby feeding industry.

Delegates from Tanzania (Mafota Shomesi), Uruguay (Cecilia Muxi), Cote d’Ivoire (Kounandi Coulibali), and Zimbabwe (Rufaro Madzima) just after the successful three hour drafting meeting. 17th May. Industry reps waiting along the corridor were not so happy.

The Indian delegate said:

"Commercial enterprises by definition are profit driven entities. It is neither appropriate nor realistic for the WHO to expect that commercial groups will work along with governments and other groups to protect, promote and support breastfeeding."

The delegate from Palau appealed to WHO to "protect Member States from undue and unwanted influence by industries and manipulation by them".

The Resolution endorses a new Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, the outcome of a four-year consultative process involving all member states.

Baby Milk Action/IBFAN speaking on behalf of Consumers International also made an intervention on the report on Diet, Nutrition and Physical Activity. Earlier in the week WHO’s Director General, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, laid down a clear challenge to the trillion dollar food industry, saying that WHO would “reinvigorate its work on diet, food safety and human nutrition," addressing the problem of "excessive consumption of fatty, sugary and salty foods". DR Brundtland recognised that "Getting loyalty to brand names is the key to influencing consumer behaviour - from the time children start to walk...” and that “Brand name promotions - whether for tobacco, alcohol or fast foods - are designed to take advantage of people’s subconscious...There is certainly a need for guidance... WHO will play its part."

IBFAN warmly welcomed this new initiative but, together with other NGOs, expressed caution about Public Private Partnerships. IBFAN called for an urgent review and change in WHO’s checking procedures and guidelines on conflict of interest.


Follow-on milks, fortified ketchup - the answer to malnutrition?

An article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in May about a new UN/Bill Gates initiative highlighted the growing concerns about UN partnerships with corporations and the starkly different perceptions that stakeholders often have. (Ref. 1)

According to the WSJ, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) aims to address malnutrition by offering economic incentives to food companies to bring fortified processed foods and food commodities to impoverished nations. The companies include Procter and Gamble, Kraft (a subsidiary of the tobacco giant Philip Morris) and Heinz (manufacturer of Farley’s baby milks and a violator of the International Code).

The WSJ says that in exchange for adding nutrients to products (such as Kraft’s fortified Cheez Whiz and Heinz fortified Ketchup) and advice on fortification of food commodities, GAIN “would offer companies assistance in lobbying for favourable tariffs and tax rates and a speedier regulatory review of new products in targeted countries.”

When questioned about this in May, David Nabarro (then WHO Executive Director), denied that such promises had been made. WHO has made a point of trying to avoid 'interactions' with the tobacco industry or any of its subsidiaries, and UNICEF’s guidelines also exclude tobacco companies as well as violators of the International Code.

The question is, who will gain most from GAIN? While the fortification of basic food commodities may have real benefits, will the promotion of processed foods covered in health claims really prevent malnutrition?

Out of concern about initiatives such as GAIN (see right) the draft WHA Resolution was amended. The final version calls on Member States to:

‘ensure that the introduction of micronutrient interventions and the marketing of nutritional supplements do not replace, or undermine support for, the sustainable practice of exclusive breastfeeding and optimal complementary feeding.’


Ref. 1 Zimmerman, R, Gates Fights Malnutrition with Cheese, Ketchup and other fortified food items. WSJ, 9.5.02

Belgian baby death sparks safety questions

A case which highlights the need to do more to protect breastfeeding in all countries, not just in developing countries, is that of a 5-day-old Belgian baby, who died of meningitis on March 16th. The baby was born healthy, but was fed whilst in hospital with Nestlé Beba 1 dried infant formula from a batch which was contaminated with Enterobacter Sakazakii.

Five weeks later, on April 22, as a 'precautionary measure', Nestlé blocked sales of the affected batches of Beba 1 in Belgium and Luxembourg. It has not done so in Switzerland where the product is also sold.

Nestlé claims that the level of contamination is well below the acceptable international standard of 4 bacteria per 100g and that current manufacturing processes are not sufficient to remove the contamination. This indicates that the problem could be widespread.

Indeed, in April 2002 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a communication about Enterobacter Sakazakii stating that it found contamination in 14% of tins of formula tested. It referred to a 1998 ‘Belgian case’ which resulted in a number of ill children and 2 infant deaths. An internet Medline search reveals many more cases of Enterobacter Sakazakii infections due to contamination of infant formula in the past years.

Newspapers cited the baby’s father’s anger at discovering that the parents of two other babies that died in 1998 were never informed of the cause of death. The father told Baby Milk Action that:

“With all the information we have now, there would be no way that we would choose powdered milk formula.”

On Belgian news, Nestlé’s spokesman, Cedric de Prelle, said that the product is not sterile and went further to say that:

“the germs present in the product help with the production of immune factors.”

Breastmilk is, of course,not sterile, and its living components - antibodies and immunoglobulins play an important role in building infant immunity to infection. But is Nestlé really suggesting that Enterobacter Sakazaki or Salmonella contamination is a good thing? IBFAN is calling for independent safety testing of formulas and better public warnings about the risks of artificial feeding.

  • Since in the past contaminated and recalled products have been found in other markets, let us know if you see any of the recalled batches. They will be marked: DEXCPIKA or DEXCPIKB.

Nestlé formula in UK - is it legal?

After trying for many years to break into the UK market, Nestlé plans to launch an infant formula here in August. Nestlé quickly withdrew its toddler snacks and drinks from sale in 2000 after complaints from health bodies (see Boycott News 27). It is courting yet more controversy (and challenging the Codex ban on health claims - see below), with this infant formula which contains partially hydrolised proteins, and carries a highly promotional and controversial brand name: Nan HA Hypoallergenic. Milks with fully hydrolysed proteins have been shown to be useful, but the scientific basis for cheaper partially hydrolised proteins has not been established (Ref. 2). In 1996, after pressure from industry, a new claim was added to the EU Directive on infant formulas (91/321/EEC) allowing a claim about a “reduction of risk to allergy to milk proteins” provided it is proven. But the words HA and hypoallergenic are not specified.

When Nestlé (Carnation) first launched its Good Start HA in the US in 1988 several allergic babies suffered from anaphylactic shock as a result. Nine US States and the Food and Drug Administration investigated and forced Nestlé Carnation to stop using 'hypoallergenic' claims which they said were:

“Misleading and deceptive...Those babies who had severe reactions to Carnation Good Start have paid a high price for the company's irreponsible conduct."

Milks with HA or Hypoallergenic claims are still used in many countries, including Europe.
Prof Jean Rey, a long-time member of the European Committee on Nutrition (ESPGAN) and the European Scientific Committee for Food (SCF) which advises the EU Commission, has taken funding from Nestlé and Milupa for many years. He left the SCF just before we successfully persuaded the EU Commission to declare the interests of its members in March 2000 (see Update 27).

In 1993, leading Swedish allergy specialist, Prof Bengt Bjorksten, challenged Prof Rey about his support for hypoallergenic milks saying:

"The conclusions drawn by the Committee [ESPGAN]...differ substantially from what most American and European researchers suggest, and they are almost identical to those suggested by the company marketing the partially hydrolysed product direct to the public... Why did the Committee not properly address this important controversy but merely uncritically quote a review published in a company sponsored book by an employee of the company?" (Ref. 3).

We are asking the UK Food Standards Agency and the European Commission if the HA claim is legal.

Ref 2. Bergmann et al, 1997, Monatsschrift für Kinderheilkunde, Band 145, S. 533-539.
Ref 3. Bjorksten B, 1993, Comment on Comment on Antigen-reduced infant formulae, Acta Pediatr 82:660-2. 1993

Pelargon claims disputed

In Update 30 we reported how Nestlé is using HIV/AIDS to push the use of infant formula in Africa through a Nutrition Institute launched last August. Nestlé has been promoting an acidified formula, Nan Pelargon, throughout Southern Africa, claiming it will ‘kill germs’ and is safe to use in all situations. In February, Nestlé finally answered our request (sent in October) for the scientific evidence to support these claims. We sent the references to Prof Andrew Tomkins of the Institute of Child Health and Patience Mensah, a microbiologist from Ghana, who reviewed the literature. They sent the following conclusion:

“the antimicrobial effects of Pelargon are demonstrable within the clean environment of a lab with the carefully described studies that are expressed in the papers which are published around the use of the product. There is, however, in our view, no proven data that Pelargon will protect against diarrhoeal episodes in communities where hygiene is unsatisfactory. We therefore believe that the product should be tested against non fermented formula in carefully performed field studies.”

  • Even the doctors on Nestlé’s own Nutrition Institute Board seem to have concerns about safety claims. They circulated an email saying:

    "As a board we have taken to task the company of the alleged statement on the anti-microbial activity of one of its products and have also queried it from a clinical pharmacologic point of view."

Picture left: Promotion of Nestlé HA milks in Malaysia, 1996.



Threat to Ghana's law overturned

An amendment which would have undermined Ghana’s strong Breastfeeding Promotion Regulation was overturned last October, after interventions by Baby Milk Action and other IBFAN groups.

The Law, which was adopted just one year before, is one of the strongest in Africa and incorporates the entire International Code and subsequent Resolutions. The amendment was proposed on the basis that HIV/AIDS changed the situation, but it failed to mention the research on exclusive breastfeeding or the 2001 WHA Resolution which protected women’s rights to information about HIV/AIDS “free from commercial influence”. The amendment would have substantially weakened many of the Law’s protective clauses, and would have removed the requirement that research on infant feeding should be approved by the Minister of Health. The restrictions on formula donations and on commercial health information would also have been weakened.

“The good people of Ghana stood firmly behind the law and in the interest of their babies.” said Charles Sagoe-Moses, the IBFAN Coordinator for Ghana, when the amendment was thrown out. IBFAN is calling for independent research into the risks of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV through breastfeeding and for much closer monitoring of how free formula affects infant feeding and infant health.

Free formula not advisable for HIV say experts

The British Medical Journal reports (BMJ 2002;324:1474,22 June) that child health specialists in South Africa are urging governments and agencies not to provide free formula milk in programmes aimed at preventing mother to child HIV transmission. They say that although formula may appear to be a good idea, the consequences can be damaging.

"Free formula milk may appear to be a blessing, but while potentially decreasing the rate of postnatal transmission, it is very likely to increase morbidity and mortality from other infectious diseases, thus decreasing overall child survival," say the specialists from the University of Natal and the Child Health Group of the Africa Centre for Population Studies and Reproductive Health in a report. They say that public health policy must promote child survival for the entire population, not a selected group of children.

The report continues:

"The overwhelming majority of babies born to HIV infected women and all babies born to uninfected women will benefit from exclusive breastfeeding for about six months. Therefore, even in areas of high HIV prevalence, we believe it is more appropriate to promote exclusive breastfeeding as public health policy, and counsel individual women on infant feedings choices, rather than implement and support superficially attractive measures that offer free replacement feeds, but with potentially disastrous consequences for maternal and child health."

The report, which says that about 200,000 to 350,000 infants may be infected worldwide by HIV each year through breastfeeding, also points to estimates from Unicef that 1.5 million non-HIV related deaths a year could be prevented globally through breastfeeding. WHO has shown that infants who are not breastfed and who receive formula or other replacement feeds have a sixfold increased risk of dying in the first two months of life.

Codex says no again to health claims

A qualified ban on health and nutrition claims on foods for infants and young children was once again supported globally and moved a step closer to adoption (to Step 5) at the Codex meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia in May. The final stage is the next one, to Step 8. Baby Milk Action joined INFACT Canada to defend the ban, in the face of a lobby by multibillion $ industries. (See above on Nestlé’s HA claims).

The UK (supported by GlaxoSmithKline, makers of Baby Ribena) suggested wording, which, had it been accepted, would have weakened the text, allowing health claims on baby drinks. Later, however, the UK supported the excellent proposals for better nutrition labelling, called QUID.

The food industry, backed by the United States, consistently called for the removal of references to ‘national health policies’ arguing that decisions about health claims should be based on ‘science’ (meaning industry funded science). IBFAN is opposed to health claims on foods in principle, but maintains that if they are allowed at all, they should be based on ‘independently funded’ science which has stood the test of time. This is a very important point. If national governments lose the right to form health policies which are appropriate to their national circumstances, companies could force products carrying unsubstantiated health claims onto markets, undermining indigenous and local diets.

  • The debate about Genetic Modification reached a stand-off at Codex, with the major GM producing countries US, Canada and Argentina, arguing for the use of the term ‘product of modern biotechnology’ rather than ‘Genetically Modified’ (GM) or ‘Genetically Engineered’ (GE). The chair did not bow to this minority pressure this time and retained all three terms.

  • 71% of European consumers don’t want to eat GM food and 94% want the right to choose. On 3rd July the EU Parliament voted to introduce tough GM labelling and traceability rules.

  • At the Codex Committee on General Principles in Paris in April, IBFAN successfully lobbied for the retention of the International Code and Resolutions in the Proposed Draft Revised Code of Ethics, in spite of pressure from Argentina and Australia to delete the reference.

    What is Codex?

    Codex is almost unknown to the general public yet it deals with issues of fundamental importance to human health.

    The Codex Alimentarius Commission is an FAO/WHO body which sets global food standards. Although voluntary, these have assumed much greater importance since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) because they will be used as a bench mark in trade disputes.

    One of the purposes of Codex is to: protect the ‘health of consumers’ and ensure ‘fair practices in the food trade’. Since the formation of the WTO, it could be argued that Codex should focus more on consumer protection.

    Food companies attend Codex under many guises, often dominating national delegations or appearing as organisations such as the Council for Responsible Nutrition. CRN represents Monsanto, which, with Dupont, owns 93% of all GM crops.


Royal Society warns of GM formula

The UK Royal Society has warned that “Bottle-fed babies could be undernourished if given genetically modified infant formula milk because of inadequate regulations and testing regimes for GM foods” and has called for tighter safety checks before any novel foods, including GM foods, are declared fit for human consumption.

The report said that regulations covering foods made from GM plants were “rather piecemeal” and may contain “some important gaps and inconsistencies.”

Dr. Eric Brunner, of the University College, London said babies dependent solely on formula milk were particularly vulnerable that “small changes to the nutritional content might have effects on infant bowel function.” The Royal Society is concerned that so much research into GM food safety is secret for commercial reasons.

See: Genetically modified plants for food use and human health

Ireland and the baby food industry

One reason why the Irish Law is not even as strong as the EU Directive and why less than 33% of Irish mothers initiate breastfeeding, could be the influence of the baby food industry on the Government.

Following a visit to the companies’ headquarters in the US, the Irish Minister for Agriculture Food and Rural Development, Mr Joe Walsh, publicised the importance of the infant formula industry, specifically the US companies Wyeth Nutritional (SMA) and Abbott, to Irish agriculture, pointing out their role in helping Ireland become one of Europe’s leading producers and exporters of infant nutritionals.

The Irish industry employs over 2,300 people directly and indirectly. He said the babyfood industry represents one of the highest value added markets for Irish milk and dairy produce.

US and Canadian monitoring reports published

Two of the countries featured in Breaking the Rules 2001, have now published their national monitoring reports which were launched in Geneva in May. The US report, published by the National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy, is entitled Selling Out Mothers and Babies: Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes in the USA.

It exposes how the US healthcare system is a major conduit for formula marketing. In almost all hospitals in the US (except Baby Friendly and Military hospitals), formula companies pay large sums to guarantee exclusive use of their brand and provide new mothers with gift packs containing formula. Cases of formula are delivered to pregnant women and obstetric offices sign up pregnant women for formula clubs, passing on the names of their patients to the formula companies. With an annual birth rate of 4 million, the US government spends close to $2 billion a year buying formula while the healthcare system pays over $7 billion a year for the excess disease resulting from low rates of breastfeeding.

The US was the only country to oppose the International Code when it was adopted in 1981 and in subsequent years. During the Clinton administration the US position softened enough to allow the 1994 Resolution to pass unopposed.

Since then, its position has hardened again, with the US regularly supporting the industry position, private partnerships and industry funding of research.

The Canadian Report, Out of the Mouths of Babes, published by Infact Canada, tells a similar story, with blatant violations of the International Code from all baby feeding companies.


Breastfeeding: the long decline arrested

A new report from UNICEF UK, entitled, Bright Futures, Malnutrition: the news, details the progress made in arresting the decline in breastfeeding. This is attributed to the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) (launched in 1991/2) and to efforts to implement the International Code.

In the last 10 years the rate of exclusive breastfeeding to the age of four months has risen by 4%. In Latin America, this figure had fallen to less than 25% by 1990, but has now risen again to 40%. In Paraguay, following the implementation of BFHI’s 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, the Ministry of Health reported a 60% reduction in respiratory infections and a 15% reduction in diarrhoeal disease.

The report also attributes the success to the increasing number of countries who have taken steps to implement the International Code. Over half the world’s population are now protected in law by the International Code. However, the report does state that the battle is far from being won. Only about half the babies born in the developing world are exclusively breastfed for the first four months, and the percentage for the recommended 6 months is lower still.

Contact Unicef Publications (UK): 01245 476315

Speak out for Trade Justice!

Baby Milk Action joined the 12,000 people who turned up for the UK’s largest ever mass lobby of Parliament on June 19th. The Lobby was organised by the Trade Justice Movement; a group of over 40 organisations that are concerned about the impact of unjust trade rules.

300 MPs were lobbied and speakers included Vandana Shiva, representing a coalition of NGOs in India. Baby Milk Action had a stall and visited the Cambridge MP, Anne Campbell. Following the day, the Secretary of State for Development (DFID), Clare Short, and the Secretary of State for Trade (DTI), Patricia Hewitt both reported how helpful the event was in putting trade justice firmly on the map, implying that the British Government supported the Trade Justice Movement’s call for justice in trade rules. However, in a letter to the Guardian on 22nd June, John Hilary of Save the Children and seven NGOs (including Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, the World Development Movement and Christian Aid), claimed that:

“The free trade agenda underpinning Government trade policy condemns poor farming communities to poverty and insecurity as their domestic markets are destroyed by unfair competition from the developed world. Similarly, many poorer countries stand to suffer from the pressure which the British Government exerts on them to liberalise key services such as water. The DTI has openly admitted that its services agenda is dictated by the interests of business, not the needs of the poor.”

The NGOs are calling on the Government to respond with a radical rethink of trade policy, not another helping of spin.

  • Baby Milk Action joined a DFID Development Policy Forum the next day. We asked Clare Short about the pressure we are all under to work collaboratively with corporations and whether this threatened thorough independent monitoring? We did not get an answer.

  • A Private Member’s Bill tabled in June by Linda Perham MP in the UK Parliament called on companies to improve their environmental and social impact policies.

European Parliament votes to regulate multinational companies

The European Parliament adopted a report in May responding to the European Commission’s proposals on corporate responsibility which place trust in companies to regulate themselves. The Parliament wants new legislation requiring companies to publicly report annually on their social and environmental performance, to make Board members personally responsible for these practices, and to establish legal jurisdiction against European companies’ abuses in developing countries.

Update readers were encouraged to comment on the Commission’s proposals last year. The Parliamentarians called for codes of conduct to be in line with international standards and for a separate framework to make them legally binding. They want a monitoring system involving all stakeholders, naming and shaming violating companies.

In his speech to Parliament, Labour MEP Richard Howitt, Rapporteur on Corporate Social Responsibility, said: “The prospect of legislation spurs voluntary efforts, which in turn establish norms which legislation entrenches in future years.” He cited among the victims of abuses the “1.5 million babies dying every year because their mothers don’t breastfeed, misled by marketing practices for infant formula.” He said, “..of 2,500 voluntary codes of conduct promoted by business, two-thirds ignore internationally recognised standards, avoid independent verification or disown responsibility down their supply is the time for regulation to complement business initiatives.”

The European Commission will publish its response in July.

Richard Howitt MEP can be contacted at

Save the Children’s report about GATS The wrong model is available from:

Write to the Prime Minister, calling on the UK Government to support legal measures for enforcing corporate accountability in line with international standards:

The Rt Hon Tony Blair, Prime Minister, House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA

UK news

Infant Feeding Survey results

The results of the sixth national survey of infant feeding (2000) were published in May. Conducted every five years since 1975, the survey monitors infant feeding practices throughout the UK and provides national statistics on the incidence, prevalence, and duration of breastfeeding as well as investigating other feeding practices adopted by mothers from the early weeks to around nine months of age. These include the use of formula and cow’s milk, factors associated with mothers’ feeding intentions, and when mothers introduce solid foods.

Key findings of the 2000 survey:

  • The trend towards improved breastfeeding rates reported in all countries of the UK in 1995 has continued with 69% of babies being breastfed initially in 2000, an increase on the 66% figure in 1995.

  • The incidence of breastfeeding (the proportion of babies who were breastfed initially including all babies put to the breast at all) continued to vary by country, as in previous surveys. In England & Wales the figure was 71%, in Scotland 63% and in Northern Ireland 54%. The difference in breastfeeding incidence between the countries is no longer as great as in 1995 due to a greater rise in incidence from 1995 to 2000 in Scotland & Northern Ireland than in England & Wales.

  • The greatest increase in the incidence of breastfeeding was amongst those classified as social class V with an increase of 9% reported (from 50% to 59%) in England and Wales and a 7% rise throughout the UK (from 50% to 57%).

  • Although 69% of UK mothers breastfed initially, by 2 weeks this figure had dropped to 52%, by 6 weeks to 42% , by 6 months to 21% & at 9 months only 13% of babies were being breastfed.

  • These figures are all similar or the same as the 1995 percentages showing that although the initial incidence of breastfeeding was higher throughout the UK this was not reflected in an increase in the prevalence of breastfeeding at any age beyond birth. Only in Scotland were increases in breastfeeding prevalence apparent at all ages up to eight months with mothers here also more likely to breastfed for longer than mothers in the rest of the UK with 40% still breastfeeding at 6 months (34% for England & Wales).

  • Nine in ten mothers (90%) who gave up breastfeeding within six weeks of birth said they would have liked to breastfeed for longer. The most common reasons stated for giving up were the baby rejecting the breast, painful breasts or nipples and/or insufficient milk.

  • Solids are being introduced later than in 1995. In 2000, 24% of mothers had introduced solid foods to their baby by the age of 3 months, compared with 56% in 1995. However, almost half (49%) had introduced solids before 4 months of age.

The survey, ‘Infant Feeding 2000’ is available to download from the Department of Health’s website:

Scottish right to breastfeeding in public

A recent Private Member’s Bill by Labour MSP Elaine Smith proposes that the Scottish Parliament give women the legal right to breastfeed in public in Scotland, and making it an offence to restrict a woman’s right to breastfeed in public. The Bill could lead to fines for restaurateurs and publicans amongst others. An advisory group, including midwives, health visitors and children’s charity representatives, plan to refine the proposals.

Breastfeeding Coordinator for Wales

To coincide with National Breastfeeding Week the Welsh Health Minister, Jane Hutt, announced that the Welsh Assembly will be appointing an All Wales Breastfeeding Coordinator to lead implementation of its breastfeeding strategy.

Grants totalling £65,000 have been made to support 37 community breastfeeding promotion projects, including researching setting up the first breastmilk bank in Wales.

Student training in breastfeeding skills

The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative has called for better education in breastfeeding skills for all student midwives and health visitors. Responses to a consultation paper are currently being analysed with a view to refining a set of best practice standards and an accreditation system. In addition UNICEF UK is calling for the introduction of breastfeeding targets and best practice policies in England, following the example set in Scotland.

Early Day Motion

The National Childbirth Trust is calling for a Breastfeeding Strategy for England similar to those in Northern Ireland, Wales and most Scottish health boards. An Early Day Motion (EDM - No 439) supporting the call has been tabled in the Westminster Parliament. The EDM also calls for implementation of the International Code in the UK.

UK news

UK and EU action on marketing on schools

At a time when rates of childhood obesity are increasing at an alarming rate, commercial activities in schools have been identified as a high profile concern. Baby Milk Action is concerned not only about the influence that baby feeding companies may have on nutrition and child care education, but also the influence of corporations on education generally and on the right of teachers to discuss global issues freely without fear of censure.

A new coalition of health groups, established under the umbrella of Sustain, will look specifically at the risks to health of marketing in schools. The group includes the Children’s Society, the National Consumer Council, Consumers’ Association, the National Heart Forum, the Food Commission, Education PLC, Baby Milk Action and Sustain. The group is investigating ways to support teachers and parents who wish to take action to protect children’s health and to ensure that schools are free from the marketing of sugary, fatty and salty foods. Of concern to some members of the group are the weak guidelines published jointly last November by the Consumers’ Association, the Department for Education and Skills (DFES) and the Incorporated Society for British Advertisers (ISBA) which some feel will exacerbate the problem by encouraging commercial activity in schools. (See Commercial Activities in Schools - best practice principles, in Update 30)

Research done by the Food Standard’s Agency could find no UK school which was not involved in food-related commercial activities of one kind or another, for example, collecting token schemes, hiring vending machines or allowing branding in ‘educational’ materials. Often forgotten is the time taken to manage the commercial schemes, eg cutting out tokens from crisp packets. For this to be financially worthwhile children must eat far more than the advisable consumption rate of two packets a week.

Following intensive lobbying by the Advertising Association (AA), a ground-breaking report of the European Consumer Committee on marketing in schools was dropped from the Committee’s agenda. The report called for controls on advertising within schools, sponsorship and messages that undermine healthy eating. The AA, wrote to Commissioner David Byrne, who is responsible for legislation in this area, saying that the report would “generate a massive negative response from the marketing, advertising, promotional and market research industries.”

1. Send examples of food marketing in schools to Kath Dalmeny (Food Commission/Sustain) Tel: 020 7837 1228 Email:

2 Write to your MEP and ask for the Consumer Committee report on Commercial Practices aimed at Children to be put back on the agenda.

Health charities boost company profits

The Food Commission analysed the phenomenon of health charities and medical associations allowing their logos to appear on food products in order to raise money and promote healthy eating. They found that the schemes could do more for company profits than public health. The products usually cost significantly more - sometimes ten times more - than other food of similar nutritional value.

Parent's Jury

The Food Commission has started a new campaign on children’s food with a Parent’s Jury which will pass judgement on children’s food and give prizes, such as The Tooth Rot, and Pester Power Awards. Contact the Food Commission if you are interested in helping.

See Food Magazine, Issue 57 Apr/June 2002. Email:

Vending machine sparks debate

19th June. The presence of a Nestlé vending machine in King Alfred School, London, prompted student group Green Goblins to organise a debate entitled, What lies ahead for a world driven by money?

The panel included (on the right of the Chair) Hugh Carnegy, Deputy Managing Editor of the Financial Times, Christopher Beale, Chairman of the Institute of Directors, and on the left, Alex Callinicos, Dept of Politics, York University and Patti Rundall, Baby Milk Action.

Don't forget to See through the Spin

Our education pack Seeing through the Spin is there to help! It provides teachers with all the information they need to help students understand and tackle PR wherever it comes from. Download it from our website or order it from the Virtual Shop.

Reviews and Research

Two new books from India

A leading light in IBFAN’s struggle to protect breastfeeding and infant health in India for over two decades is DR Raj Anand, a paediatrician working in Bombay. A revised edition of his book, published previously as the Penguin Guide to Child Care, has now been published and is fast becoming the ‘DR Spock’ of India. In 1995 Raj featured in Yorkshire TV’s documentary Bottle Feeding in India, and in 1996 gave a seminar for Baby Milk Action supporters in London.

Raj is also an author of the important book: The Science of Infant Feeding. The three other authors are Arun Gupta (of BPNI), NB Kumpta and KP Kushwaha.

Breastfeeding and intelligence

Recent studies have provided further evidence of an association between breastfeeding and intelligence. Rao et al. conclude: "Duration of exclusive breastfeeding has a significant impact on cognitive development without compromising growth among children born SGA [small for gestational age]." Similarly, Mortensen et al. found slightly higher intelligence scores in adults who had been breastfed longer, with many confounders controlled for.

Rao et al. Effect of breastfeeding on cognitive development of infants born small for gestational age. Acta Paediatr. 2002;91(3):267-74
Mortensen et al. The Association Between Duration of Breastfeeding and Adult Intelligence. JAMA 2002;287:2365-71)

Sexual desire and breastfeeding

Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia have found that women’s sexual desire is boosted by the odours given off by breastfeeding women and newborn babies. The findings add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that our natural smell influences other people on an unconscious level, and that human pheromones exert a subtle influence over us. Smells associated with breastfeeding increased feelings of sexual intimacy in childless women volunteers. Why this should be so is a mystery, but the researchers suggest it may be a way that women signal to each other that the environment is a good one in which to reproduce. See New Scientist, 27April 02.

Friends of the Earth calls for pesticide reductions in baby foods

As new Government data is released, Friends of the Earth has challenged supermarkets to eliminate residues from foods, especially baby foods. The FOE report concludes that exposure to pesticides at a young age may be responsible for serious health effects, particularly in later life. FOE report available on Government report:

Obesity, formula feeding and early solids

Infants who are breastfed are less likely to suffer childhood obesity than their bottlefed counterparts, says a new study published in the Lancet. Researchers from the University of Glasgow and the Child Health Information Team in Edinburgh,studied around 32,000 Scottish children and found obesity to be less common in breastfed children, with a 30 per cent reduction in risk of the condition.

Meanwhile researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania, conducting the largest-ever study into infant weight gain, found that babies who put on too much weight during the first four months of their lives could be condemned to a lifetime of obesity. “These findings could lead to a whole new hypothesis regarding the cause of childhood obesity,” said DR Nicolas Stettler, co-author of the report. “Early infancy constitutes a critical period for the establishment of obesity and, if these findings are true, we have established that the first months of life should be a special focus of intervention.” Studies have confirmed a range of factors that may predispose children to obesity, including maternal overweight, maternal gestational diabetes, high birth weight, formula rather than breast feeding, the early introduction of solid food and television viewing.

Armstrong J et al, 2002, Breastfeeding and lowering the risk of childhood obesity, Lancet, Vol 359: p. 23-24
Stettler N et al, Feb 2002, Infant Weight Gain and Childhood Overweight Status, Paediatrics, Vol 109, pp. 194-199

Roundup and merchandise

Campaigns Officer

Andrea Hill joined Baby Milk Action as Campaigns Officer earlier this year. With a background in student union campaigning is working on grass roots action and the Nestlé Boycott.

New merchandise

Our ‘Your Help’ leaflet has been updated with all Baby Milk Action’s new merchandise including the ‘cartoon cow’ design t-shirt & mug, new cards, recent publications and new fridge magnets (see right). These have moving eyes, head & legs and are hand-made in Brazil to raise funds for local IBFAN groups. They cost £3.00 each and are available in pregnant or breastfeeding versions in a variety of colours.

You can buy these and other merchandise in the Virtual Shop. or if in the UK give us a call for the leaflet on 01223 464420. Money raised from merchandise sales plays an important part in supporting our work as well as publicising Baby Milk Action and the campaign to protect infant health.

Special Care Babies

This revised edition of the popular Sandra Lang book is a comprehensive and practical guide to all aspects of breastfeeding for babies with special needs. Contains new material on:

  • breastfeeding at birth
  • skin-to-skin contact & care
  • positioning and attachment
  • breastfeeding and HIV

£18.00 (inc P & P in the UK). Available in the Virtual Shop.

2003 Breastfeeding Calendar

To coincide with World Breastfeeding Week, the new IBFAN Breastfeeding Calendar 2003 will be available from August. Once again it features 12 beautiful photos of mothers and babies from around the world. Still priced at £5.00 it can be ordered in the Virtual Shop from August).

Please contact us for prices for bulk or overseas orders. If you have any interesting or unusual photographs of breastfeeding mothers which may be suitable for the 2004 calendar please send them to us with your name and address marked clearly on the back.

World Breastfeeding Week 1 - 7 August 2002

Individuals and organisations in over 120 countries will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) next month. Now in its 10th year, this year’s theme of “Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies” aims to heighten awareness, especially among health care professionals and workers, about the significance of breastfeeding and the practices that influence the outcomes of breastfeeding. By addressing the wider picture of the mother’s and baby’s health and well-being WBW 2002 hopes to:

  • reinstate breastfeeding as an inegral part of women’s health and reproductive cycle
  • create an awareness of women’s right to humane and non-invasive birthing practices
  • promote the Global Initiative for Mother Support (GIMS) for Breastfeeding as one way to strengthen the support for mothers

For further info visit: