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Issue 35: December 2004

The news items which appear on this page also appear in the printed version of Update.

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Update 35 - Baby Milk Action's newsletter

Click here to download as a pdf file. You will need Acrobat Reader to open the file. The cover photo is one of 12 in the 2005 IBFAN calendar, available in the Virtual Shop.

Table of Contents

Nestlé boycott and news

IBFAN celebrates 25 years

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 200 citizens groups in over 100 countries. On 12 October 2004 IBFAN celebrated 25 years of successful campaigning in protection of infant and young child health and the rights of mothers to independent information.

IBFAN 2005 Breastfeeding calendar now available in the on-line Virtual Shop.

Some words of thanks

  • to UNISON Women’s Conference for adopting a resolution calling for support for Baby Milk Action’s work and to the UNISON Global Political Fund, our other funders (listed right), members and donors for supporting us financially (our work would not be possible without your help).

  • to our Area Contacts who have run stalls, such as at WOMAD (page 7) and spoken at events (contact us if you are interested in becoming involved).

  • to everyone who has reported violations to make the Look What They’re Doing report possible (page 4) and to the King’s Fund for supporting this project.

  • to all members of the Baby Feeding Law Group who have hosted our quarterly meetings and helped in the lobby to persuade the UK Government to implement the Code and Resolutions. And to everyone who wrote to MPs in support of the Early Day Motion tabled by Lynne Jones MP to protect infant health and to all the MPs who signed (page 4). Remember to continue this action by writing about the European Directive. (page 3).

Recent grants have
come from

  • Oxfam
  • Save the Children
  • the United Reformed Church
  • Methodists Relief and Development Fund
  • King’s Fund
  • Rowan Charitable Trust
  • Eleanor Rathbone Charitable Trust
  • Dorfred Charitable Trust
  • Gibbs Charitable Trust
  • Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation
  • Network for Social Change
  • Funding Network
  • Stock Exchange Veterans Charity Association
  • World Vision
  • to everyone who has responded to our action alerts by sending messages to baby food companies which are Breaking the Rules (page 4), to governments which need encouragement when their laws are under attack (page 6) and to support Nestlé whistleblower Syed Aamar Raza (

  • to everyone who has turned up to demonstrations at SMA training days, the Nestlé Perrier Awards (page 8), Nestlé HQ, Vote for Trade Justice and your own actions (page 7).

  • to everyone who has supported boycott motions at universities and alerted us when Nestlé was trying to speak without us hearing about it (page 7) and to everyone campaigning in schools, such as against Nestlé box-tops for education scheme (page 7).

European Union MEPs block health claims

The 1991 European Union (EU) Directive on Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula, which drives marketing legislation within the EU and influences legislation in other countries, is now up for review. This is a critically important opportunity to demand that European infants and their families have the full protection of the International Code and subsequent, relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions, called for by European Parliamentarians (MEPs) since 1981. Since 1989, the European Commission (currently the Food Law and Biotechnology Unit, Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General) has had the power to draw up legislation on Foodstuffs intended for Particular Nutritional Uses (including breastmilk substitutes) without consulting MEPs. It must consult experts from EU Member States but its meetings with them, chaired by the Head of Unit, Basil Mathioudakis, are secret. The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) does share notes of these meetings but not information about other Member States’ positions. The UK is supporting the efforts to improve the Directive, including calling for restrictions on the promotion of follow-on milks and seeking assurances that the more ‘flexible approach’ to claims, proposed by the Commission, will not undermine breastfeeding.

MEPs, who have called three times for the Code to be law in the EU, have, in the past, stepped in at crucial moments to stop the Commission weakening the thrust of the marketing controls and are doing so now. Caroline Lucas for the Greens has asked a Priority Question, as has Linda McAvan, Labour’s spokesperson in the European Parliament on Environment and Public Health:

“Can the Commission give assurances that World Health Assembly Resolutions will be integrated into the current review of directive 91/321/EEC on infant formulae and that the European Parliament will be consulted on the matter? What assurance can the Commission give that the safeguards recommended by the WHO, which are minimum requirements for the protection of health, will be fully implemented in Europe and that the Directive will not be weakened in any way, for example by permitting health and nutrition claims on these foods? In the interests of transparency will the proceedings of all the Expert meetings in Brussels be fully noted and open to the public?”

The EU-funded project, the Blueprint for Action on the Promotion of Breastfeeding in Europe also calls for implementation of the Code and Resolutions with a strong recommendation from the outgoing European Commissioner, David Byrne:

"The Blueprint will be made available to all those Governments, institutions and organizations who are willing to work together for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. I invite them to use the Blueprint and translate its proposals and recommendations into action."

Through the IBFAN network we are gathering support for this campaign in all 25 EU Member States.

For a report in the British Medical Journal see:

EU scientists say no powdered milk for babies under 4 weeks

The European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) issued a press release on 18 November, warning of the risks of contamination from Enterobacter sakazakii and Salmonella in powdered infant formula.

The EFSA is responsible for risk assessment but has nevertheless made several dramatic management recommendations, including that all babies under 4 weeks not breastfed should be fed liquid ready-to-feed milk and that afterwards powdered formula should be reconstituted with water at 70 degrees C. We are asking why it failed to mention the need for warnings on labels and why the report was not made available for the two Codex meetings in November, where decisions were delayed again because of ‘lack of information.’

We are also asking the UK Government if ready-to-feed milks will be available on welfare schemes.

We have been calling for warnings on labels since March 2002, following the death of a 5-day-old Belgian baby because of contamination from Enterobacter sakazakii. The implications of this issue in the developing world are even more serious.

See below, Update 31 and Update 34. For the EFSA press release see

You can help with just one or two letters

Now is the critical time to send letters calling for the European Union regulations on marketing of breastmilk substitutes to be brought into line with World Health Assembly standards. Our press release EU Commission fails mothers and babies - Frustrated health worker bodies call for action at the European Union this week to stop baby milk advertising shows why yor letters are so necessary.

Send letters as soon as possible to: the Food Standards Agency in the UK and at the EU Commission to Paula Testori-Coggi, Director, Directorate D, Food safety, DG SANCO. Simply select and copy the suggested text below and click on the name of the person you want to email to open a blank email window. Paste the text into the email, edit and send.

You can also send to Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health, 200 rue de la loi, Brussels, B-1049, Belgium and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.

See the Commission’s proposals on: (Do not worry about the closing date for comments - the Commision is accepting comments until 31 March. Even if this has passed your letters are still essential. The consultation may well remain open after this round).

You can read submitted comments from organisations at

I wish to make the following points in response to the Recast Commission Directive on Infant Formulae and Follow-on Formulae.

  • European legislation should be brought into line with the requirements of the International Code and subsequent relevant WHA Resolutions and should not permit the promotion of any breastmilk substitute, bottles, teats and foods and drinks marketed as suitable for babies under 6 months.

  • HEALTH and NUTRITION claims violate the International Code and should NOT be permitted for ANY products for infants and young children. Breast milk substitutes have NO health advantage over breastfeeding.

  • Ingredients shown by independently funded research to be safe and essential for infant health should be mandatory.

  • Powdered formulas MUST carry explicit warnings that the product is NOT sterile and may be contaminated by Enterobacter sakazakii and other pathogens.

  • No food other than infant formula (or formulas for special medical purposes) should be labelled as suitable for infants under the age of 6 months.

  • The safety of soya should be questioned and, if permitted, its risks explicitly stated.

  • Follow-on milks are not necessary. If permitted they should not be promoted.

  • Free and low-cost supplies of breastmilk substitutes should not be allowed in any part of health care system.


Systematic aggressive marketing – evidence from 69 countries

IBFAN’s Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2004 94-page monitoring report, gathered through monitoring of baby food companies in 69 countries, was presented at the House of Commons on 13 May (a film of the launch is available - click here to order).

The meeting was hosted by UK Member of Parliament, Lynne Jones, whose Early Day Motion (a petition for MPs) calls on the UK Government to end baby food marketing malpractice in the UK and in other countries. The EDM received 87 signatures from MPs of nearly all parties (click here for details).

Breaking the Rules analysed Code violations by 16 transnational baby food companies and 14 bottle and teat companies between January 2002 and April 2004. 2,000 of the 3,000 complaints received were included in the final report.

Yeong Joo Kean, IBFAN's Legal Advisor said:

"We have 712 pictures of actual violations in the report. There is no way that the companies can deny that they were found in flagrant violation of the Code and Resolutions.”

Nestlé was found to be responsible for the most violations with NUMICO the second worst.

Breaking the Rules highlights the following trends:

  • 'Functional' claims. Adding optional ingredients and claiming performance benefits for them.

  • Free and low-cost supplies continue.

  • Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months continues to be undermined by most companies (including Nestlé, despite a policy change).

  • Information to health professionals. Companies fail to restrict information to scientific and factual matters.

  • Health facilities and health workers still targeted.

  • Sponsorship of medical seminars, conferences and associations of medical professionals widespread.

The Virtual Shop contains the printed version of the Breaking the Rules report, a set of summary reports from selected countries around the world, and a report in Spanish with monitoring results from Latin America and the Caribbean. There are also State of the Code by Company and Country reports.

Code training and monitoring in the UK

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Department for International Development and the Department of Health took part in a training day on the Code and Resolutions at the Centre for International Child Health in March 2004. Baby Milk Action was joined by UNICEF’s Legal Officer, David Clark, and author of the Politics of Breastfeeding, Gabrielle Palmer.

A two-day training course for monitors followed, funded by the King’s Fund.

The UK monitoring, together with reports from the public using the Baby Feeding Law Group website contributed to the Look What They’re Doing in the UK report (available as a download on the BFLG site and to purchase in the Virtual Shop).

Health and nutrition claims are common – despite being illegal.

Promotion of infant formula in supermarkets, which is also illegal, is rapidly stopped when reported to Trading Standards Officers, but promotions linked to follow-on formulae, permitted by UK legislation, are harder to stop (see Update 34 and our briefing paper Follow-on formula: why they are not necessary and should not be promoted).

Look What They're Doing in the UK monitoring report

The TV advertising regulator, Ofcom, failed to act over advertisements from SMA and Cow&Gate and a month-long campaign by Farley’s on the cable Discovery Health Channel because they were ostensibly for follow-on formula. We have asked the authorities to require the companies to release the sales figures for their full range of formulas before and after the campaigns. If it is true the advertisements only promote the follow-on formula (in itself a violation), we would expect sales of infant formula to fall as the government is investing in promoting breastfeeding and has targets to increase breastfeeding rates.

The Advertising Standards Authority refused even to investigate a Nestlé Nan HA promotion in a health worker journal, claiming it was not qualified to do so (click here for details of our complaint to the ASA).

These failings have been passed on to the FSA.

  • Nestlé is entering the UK by promoting Nan HA through its medical delegates and is forging links with health workers, offering ‘educational’ materials on infant feeding (also see below).

UK Government moves on marketing

We welcome the Government’s public health White Paper, Choosing Health, Making Healthier Choices Easier, which was finally published in November with several changes we had called for and which indicates it now takes marketing seriously. Chapter 3, section 39 states:

“Further action will include the review of the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations (1995) with a view to further restrict the advertising of infant formula. We will continue to press for amendments to the EU Directive on infant formula and follow-on formula.”

Prompted by us, the new welfare food scheme, Healthy Start, will no longer promote artificial infant feeding and many of the references to industry funded education materials have been removed (click here for Baby Milk Action's comments during the White Paper consultation).

Questions over Nestlé researcher

Hypoallergenic (HA) claims which are common in Europe are not permitted in North America following legal action after infants suffered anaphylactic shock.

The Latvian pack on the right says: “Recommended by the Latvian Paediatric Association.” While following complaints from the Baby Feeding Law Group, UK tins carry a warning on the lid NOT to feed the product to allergic babies.

There have been concerns for many years about the research base for HA claims.

Recently Canadian medical journals have called for an investigation into the entire body of research of Dr. Ranjit Chandra – the researcher used by Nestlé to support its HA claims – after allegations that his research on vitamins is fundamentally flawed. The British Medical Journal refused to print Chandra’s work saying the paper had: “All the hall marks of being entirely invented.” Chandra has failed to provide his raw data on vitamins, has left Canada and has refused to be interviewed.

Why has the Latvian Paediatric Association endorsed Nan HA?

For reports see:

Julie Crawford Award goes to Deana Vearncombe

Gail Cartmail, National Secretary of Amicus presented the 2004 Julie Crawford Award for Breastfeeding Support at the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Conference in Harrogate in October.

From 7 excellent candidates, nominated by parents, the judges chose Deana Vearncombe, a Health Visitor from Fylde, as this year’s winner. Deana not only supports breastfeeding but has been outspoken against the promotion of artificial feeding in the health care system. In a letter to the Baby Feeding Law Group Deana writes:

“Our Nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Professional Conduct, which I frequently refer to, takes the firm ethical stance of not accepting sponsorship from a baby-milk manufacturer. Many of us would welcome our professional organisations, training establishments and Trusts taking this same ethical decision.”

Deana Vearncombe winner of the 2004 Julie Crawford Award for Breastfeeding Support

There were 3 runner’s up: Elizabeth Capon, Chris Mitchell and Rachael Windsor. Last year’s winner was Gill Rapley. Julie Crawford was a health visitor and Director and Area Contact for Baby Milk Action who died at the age of 42.

“Justice denied” at World Health Assembly

Baby Milk Action attended this year’s World Health Assembly in May, where a strong draft Resolution was tabled calling for a ban on health claims on infant foods, strict controls on sponsorship and explicit warnings on product labels about possible contamination by pathogens such as Enterobacter sakazakii (see above). Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Russia and the USA said that they needed more time for discussion and successfully requested postponement of the draft Resolution until next year. Brazil and Iran requested that their objections to postponement be recorded. Dr Caleb Otto of Palau, a sponsor of the Resolution, cautioned: “Justice delayed is justice denied to these children who need help.” (You will find further details on the IBFAN website).

  • WHO’s Global Strategy on Diet and Physical Activity was eventually passed after fierce lobbying by the sugar industry and substantial weakening of the text. The Strategy lacks accountability procedures and safeguards against undue commercial influence, but is still critically important. It stresses the long-term benefits of breastfeeding in addressing obesity, diabetes and other food -related problems.

  • Following the BBC’s Panorama exposé of the influence of the World Sugar Research Institute and the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) on the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), FAO has suspended joint activities with ILSI.

  • WHO has since been accused by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest of suppressing a paper outlining actions that Codex could take to implement the Strategy. (See reports in The Guardian and on the BBC).

  • The FAO/WHO Codex Guidelines on Health and Nutrition claims, adopted in July, state in Article 1.4:There shall be no health or nutrition claims on foods for infants and young children unless permitted by relevant codex standards or national legislation.” This is a useful tool, although, because of EU objections, we failed to have the last 9 words deleted.

Environment, the EU and WHO

With IBFAN Luxembourg we joined the Civil Society delegation to WHO Europe’s 4th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Budapest in June 2004. The Children’s Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe, (CEHAPE) which was adopted, includes measures to protect exclusive breastfeeding. See

  • In Budapest WHO launched its Atlas: Inheriting the World on environmental contamination. We complained that the Atlas gave the impression that breastfeeding is harmful. WHO has now improved the text in the web version. See

  • See new policy brief by Judith Richter funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland: Public-private Partnerships and Health for All: How can WHO safeguard public interests? Available at

European Commission – transparency issues

Robert Madelin, Director General of the European Commission’s Health and Consumer Protection DG has raised questions about the references in Update 34 to the independence of EU scientists. We have reassured him that our aim was to question the lack of transparency and extent of industry influence on EU policy-making, not to undermine the good work of specific individuals.

  • We await a reply to our letter to the EU Commission’s Research DG about its policy on funding which encourages applicants to collaborate with ‘small medium enterprises’ (SMEs). An SME is defined as having an annual turnover of less than 40 m euros yet the Danone Institute, fully owned by the Danone company (turnover of 13 billion euros) is a partner in the Commission-funded Chopin project which aims to develop a formula with a new lipid profile. André Bronner (the Secretary of International Association of Infant Food Manufacturers, with 15 transnational baby food company members) represented SMEs in one of the project’s meetings.

  • IBFAN and over 100 NGOs have written to the EU President, Mr Barraso, calling for greater transparency and curbs on corporate lobbying power. See

HIV and infant feeding discussion group

Keep up-to-date on this topic by joining the WABA Yahoo Groups website. Contact Ted Greiner.

Nestlé sales fall as Indian law kicks in

India’s newly strengthened law which came into force in 2004 is having a clear effect on the promotion of breastmilk substitutes and sales. As an article in the Hindu Business Line (15 August 2004) states:

“a wide-ranging ban on advertisement and promotion of infant foods and milk substitutes, which took effect from January this year, has forced Nestlé to look for alternate distribution channels for the business — hitherto its key cash cow. The company has embarked on a revamp of its distribution. But given the wide-ranging restrictions on promotions and even point-of-sale displays, pushing sales growth in this category may prove a challenging task.”

Sales of breastmilk substitutes will inevitably fall if breastfeeding is protected.

China tragedy

12 babies died from malnutrition in East China’s Anhui Province after being fed milk powder with little, if any, nutritional value, the China Daily reported in May. While people have been detained for making fake milk powder, Chinese authorities are concerned about the emergence of a bottle-feeding culture. An IBFAN country report shows blatant violations of the marketing requirements. An official with the Ministry of Health is quoted as saying: “The health of following generations of the Chinese nation might be threatened if breastfeeding is replaced by milk powder.”

Soy formula offensive

For the third year running the industry-dominated Codex Alimentarius Commission (which sets global food standards) failed to address the risks of soy for infants. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer reiterated his warning that soy formulas “should not be used as the first choice for the management of infants with proven cow’s milk sensitivity, lactose intolerance, galactokinase deficiency and galactosaemia. Soy formulas have a high phytoestrogen content, which could pose a risk to the long-term reproductive health of infants.” CMO Briefing No 37 (January 2004).

Soy should only be used in exceptional circumstances, when other alternatives are unacceptable as soy formula contains aluminium and glucose syrup and babies exclusively fed on it are estimated to receive an amount of oestrogen equivalent to five birth control pills every day.

  • In the USA, where 26% of babies are fed soy, 89-90% of which is genetically modified, companies compete for the market unabashed, with discounts and aggressive promotion. Launching its new soy formula Nestlé claims that: “..moms who cannot or choose not to breastfeed will be comforted to know that now there is complete iron-fortified nutrition in a milk-free, lactose-free formula that uniquely combines both Supreme Soy Proteins specially designed to be easy-to-digest and DHA & ARA for healthy brain and eye development.”


Deaths settlement

Humana/Remedia has reached an out-of-court settlement (allegedly worth £9m) with the Israeli parents of two infants who died and dozens more who were harmed after being fed Tzimchit Super Formula - a soya formula presented as kosher, which contained no vitamin B1. Israeli Police recommended indicting Remedia executives on suspicion of causing death through negligence. (See the British Medical Journal 7 August 2004).

Vitamin D

A new report, Sunlight Robbery, calls for dark skinned breastfed infants who do not receive enough sunlight to be supplemented with Vit D. See: and (search vitamin d)

NO to sponsorship

The International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML) did not seek funding from the baby food industry for its 2004 Conference. Several members had not attended in previous years because of the sponsorship.

Baby Milk Action will list corporate-free events on its website. Contact us with details of your event.

Laws under attack

Baby Milk Action has helped to defend legislation implementing the baby food marketing requirements:

  • In South Africa legislation doing just the bare minimum required by the Code and Resolutions was attacked by the industry as a infringement on the freedom of commercial speech. Many supporters sent letters to the government and the new law is expected to appear shortly. (See Campaign for Ethical Marketing action sheet February 2004).

  • Brazil strengthened its legislation last year, requiring ‘Ministry of Health Warnings’ on labels. This was due to come under attack in the Parliament by deputies representing the dairy industry. After an email campaign, the industry’s attempts failed. (See Campaign for Ethical Marketing action sheet June 2004).

  • Bulgarian milk banks saved. IBFAN successfully mobilised health experts around the world, persuading the Bulgarian authorities not to close their human milk banks.

Brain food?

In the USA in June, a Mead Johnson Enfamil infant formula promotion gave parents of 20 infants prizes of US$25,000 towards future college tuition. This scheme was apparently so successful at generating publicity for Enfamil (click here for an example), Mead Johnson has launched it again for Christmas (click here for the company press release).

In Canada Mead Johnson’s claims that its modified Enfamil A+ formula enhances the mental development of infants have been withdrawn because they have no scientific basis, are “deceptive and misleading” and are in violation of Canada’s Food and Drug regulations.

Nestlé boycott news

Guardian talkboards: Join the debate about the Nestlé boycott.

Click here to download this great new logo donated to us by graphic designer, Rebecca Clark.

Thanks Rebecca!


Fight the Nestlé monster

Cancer charity turns down Nestlé million

The decision by charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer to turn down the offer of a £1 million deal for a ‘cause-related marketing’ scheme prompted front-page media coverage (see The Guardian and The Independent). The deal was designed to promote Nestlé cereal brands and the charity consulted its staff before making its decision. This prompted debate among professional fundraisers, and concern that businesses might lose enthusiasm for cause-related marketing, not wanting their ethical records scrutinised so closely. In response to the Guardian’s front-page story, Nestlé (UK) Chief Executive Alastair Sykes wrote a letter to the paper, claiming that Nestlé was a force for good in the world, citing its support for good causes such as famine relief efforts, yet failing to mention the controversy behind these. For example, in the Ethiopia case Nestlé was shamed by Oxfam exposing its attempt to extract US$6 million from the government as compensation, so offered to donate the money back. (Click here for a reminder of Nestlé's retreat on taking money from Ethiopia at a time of famine).

  • Nestlé’s donations to charities such as Cats Protection and links to celebrities such as Sadie Frost continue to backfire, generating negative media coverage and highlighting the baby milk campaign. (See, for example, Claws out for Nestlé over its £1 million deal with Cats Protection and Sadie get more than she bargained for with Nestlé). Many boycott supporters were disappointed by Trinny and Susannah (from TV’s What Not to Wear) linking with Nestlé.

  • The Norwegian Nutrition Society decided not to apply to Nestlé for funding for the 8th Nordic Conference on Nutrition in June 2004.

Nestlé in Iraq

While campaigners appeal for Iraq’s foreign debt to be scrapped, Nestlé has joined with other transnationals in claiming compensation for losses suffered when deposed dictator, Saddam Hussein, invaded Kuwait. Iraqis have so far had to pay US$2.6 million to Nestlé reports The Guardian.

  • Baby Milk Action has met with the Department for International Development over reports that UK troops have been handing out formula.

Nestlé junk food

As Nestlé continues to promote itself as a ‘nutrition’ and ‘health’ company – and an eductator – the UK Consumers Association reports that 7 of the 15 breakfast cereals with the highest levels of sugar, fat and salt were Nestlé products.

Nestlé lost a legal case in Russia where it was accused of hiding GM ingredients.

Download Baby Milk Action’s briefing on Nestlé in Schools, which exposes claims on a pamphlet in Russiafrom which the image shown right is taken. A mother says to her daughter who is leaving for school:

“Before an exam its best to eat a piece of chocolate, not a sandwich - sweets help you handle the difficult exercises”

The briefing paper also exposes how Nestlé pushes junk food in its supposedly healthy Refuel Pod vending machines.

Mother offering her daughter a bar of chocolate

Theatre at WOMAD

Baby Milk Action, with support from the Reading and Berkshire group, had a stall and ran a theatre piece at the World Organisation of Music and Dance Festival (WOMAD) in Reading in July. The script and streaming video is available in the broadcasts section of our website. Contact us for ideas to address human rights issues through theatre and video.


IBFANers from around the world joined UK campaigners at the annual demonstration at the Nestlé (UK) HQ on 15 May. A film of the event can be viewed in the broadcasts section of the Baby Milk Action website. A boycott petition with over 10,000 signatures was handed in. The 2005 demonstration will take place on 23 May and we are gathering signatures once more. You can download a petition form or contact Baby Milk Action for printed copies.

Ethical investors shift the goalposts

Baby Milk Action was disappointed to find that the FTSE4Good ethical investment index changed its criteria on baby food companies to evaluate company reports instead of using IBFAN monitoring as previously. However, the requirement that companies accept the Code and Resolutions are minimum requirements for all countries and apply to all breastmilk substitutes means that none qualifies. Baby Milk Action has been assured that company claims of adherence to the marketing requirements will continue to be evaluated in the light of IBFAN monitoring. This raises the possibility that companies will be marked down for dishonesty. (Click here for further details).

Swedish firm, GES Ethical Standard, has no such safeguards, however, and we were surprised to learn that it re-admitted Nestlé to its listing after accepting ‘clarifications’ from the company. When Baby Milk Action asked for further information, we were directed to Nestlé’s own discredited public relations materials as proof that the company had changed. We have asked GES if it will examine the evidence of what Nestlé does, not just what it says, and review its decision, but it has refused.

Time for a tribunal

Nestlé continues to lose debates with Baby Milk Action – following a November debate in Edinburgh, students voted overwhelmingly to keep the boycott. However, there is never enough time to address all of Nestlé’s claims, so Baby Milk Action is calling for an in-depth public meeting to go over the case to draw out the truth. Why not write to Nestlé asking it to accept the idea? See our suggested letter with the Edinburgh debate report.

Nestlé refused to attend a Public Hearing at the European Parliament in 2000, but now the EU may strengthen legal controls over transnationals. See the Campaign for Ethical Marketing for suggested letter to the EU.

Nestlé’s headache with Perrier – and the rise of Tap Water

Nestlé Chief Executive, Peter Brabeck, appeared so disgruntled with trade unionists at the French Perrier water bottling plant criticising his management methods in front of shareholders at the company’s Annual General Meeting in April that he announced he might sell the company. His employees are asking him to stop devaluing the Perrier brand – Nestlé dumped the recyclable glass bottles and switched to plastic some time ago and instead of focusing on the quality market are going for expansion into China. Brabeck wants the unions to accept redundancies and a revised pension plan.

If Nestlé sold Perrier some would be happy. The Perrier Comedy Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe again attracted demonstrators and prompted Perrier winner, Will Adamsdale, to refer to Nestlé’s baby food marketing malpractice in his acceptance speech and call on Nestlé to “do the right thing” which was reported in the national press (Independent, 30 August 2004). (Click here for our press release).

The corporate-free alternative to the Perrier Award, the Tap Water Awards, were held again by the Out of the Blue arts trust. Boycott endorser Stewart Lee, co-author of Jerry Springer – the Opera, joined Members of the Scottish Parliament in presenting awards to winners including Mark Watson for his ‘overly ambitious 24 hour show’ (

Demonstration outside the Perrier Awards

The audience of the Perrier Awards was greeted by a demonstration. This featured a 12 feet high puppet and was supported by Mark Ballard, Member of the Scottish Parliament. (Click here for a high resolutions version of the picture for printing).

Campaigners in the historic spa town of São Lourenço, Brazil, who won a court victory against the environmental impact of Nestlé’s bottling operations in the water park which fell into Nestlé’s hands when it took over Perrier in 1992, are also watching developments with interest. Nestlé fended off immediate closure of its illegal operation by claiming it needed until October 2004 to move out without causing redundancies. It then tried to go back on this agreement and was criticised at a public hearing in the House of Representatives in July. Whether it leaves or not, campaigners are still concerned as Nestlé has taken over water parks in four neighbouring spa towns and may simply move operations until the law catches up with it once more (for further information see Corporate Watch Magazine). Franklin Fredrick of the Citizens Movement for the Water of Minas Gerais, Brazil, spoke at a Baby Milk Action meeting at the European Social Forum in London in October, inspired by the Swiss meeting mentioned below.

Targeted in Switzerland

At the Nestlé shareholder meeting in Lausanne, cameras and recording equipment were banned for the first time. Baby Milk Action asked Peter Brabeck about the problem of contamination with Enterobacter sakazakii and whether the company would put warnings on labels that formula is not sterile. Nestlé sidetracked the question and is opposing efforts to address this issue at the World Health Assembly and Codex Alimentarius.

In June, Baby Milk Action spoke in Nestlé’s home town of Vevey at a meeting organised by the Berne Declaration, Greenpeace Switzerland and Attac Switzerland. The meeting focused on the baby milk issue, trade-union-busting activities in Colombia, use of Genetically Modified Organisms, environmental degradation with Nestlé’s water-bottling activities in Brazil and the United States and the company’s exploitation of suppliers. The Swiss meeting endorsed a letter calling for Nestlé to be excluded from the United Nations Global Compact as evidence shows it breaks all of the Compact’s principles of respect for human rights and the environment. Attac Switzerland launched a book Attac Contre l’Empire Nestlé (Attac against the Nestlé Empire).

Nestlé is the target of a boycott in 20 countries as monitoring by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN - Baby Milk Action is the UK member) finds Nestlé is responsible for more violations of the World Health Assembly marketing requirements for baby foods than any other company.