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Issue 39: April 2007

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

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Update 39

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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.

Breastfeeding manifesto

Baby Milk Action is a member of the new Breastfeeding Manifesto Coalition which is organising a postcard campaign to persuade MPs to sign up to the Manifesto's objectives (below). There will also be a Press Conference and celebrity event in the House of Commons on 16th May. Sign up at and find more information on its Seven Objectives:

Breastfeeding Manifesto

Click here to sign up
  1. Implement the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding.
  2. Implement postnatal care guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the accompanying Public Health Evidence into Practice Document.
  3. Improve training for health professionals.
  4. Work with employers to create a supportive environment for breastfeeding mothers.
  5. Develop policy and practice to support breastfeeding in public places.
  6. Include breastfeeding education (free from commercial influence) in the curriculum
  7. Adopt the WHO International Code and subsequent, relevant Resolutions.

Objectives 6 and 7 cover the work of the Baby Feeding Law Group (BLFG). A new leaflet is available - pictured right.

Click here to download.


BFLG flier

Baby Milk Action has produced a pamphlet on behalf of the BFLG exposing the strategies used by baby food companies in the UK. The pamphlet, called Hard Sell Formula, pictured right, is available as a pdf download and as printed copies.

Click here for further details and to access.

Hard Sell Formula cover

Julie Crawford Award 2006

Health Visitor, Annette Ogilvie-Forbes (left) is presented with the 2006 Julie Crawford Award by Dana MacLeod (right) at Baby Milk Action's AGM on 31st March. Annette has played a pivotal role in the support of breastfeeding in the Leicester region and protecting parents from commercial influence. For details and criteria for the 2007 Award see:
AGM 2007

End of the Perrier remembered at AGM

Dana McLeod was Special Guest at our AGM in March. Dana, of the Out of the Blue Charity, is a founder of the corporate-free Tap Water Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She gave a great presentation explaining how the Tap Water Awards, with virtually no financial backing, had - in just six years - succeeded in ending Nestlé's sponsorship of the Perrier Comedy Awards.

Click here for our press release on the end of the Perrier.

Perrier protest

Campaigners projected a message through the windows of the Perrier Award Ceremony in 2005 so the audience was well aware of the Nestlé controversy. Nestlé ended its sponsorship.


Philippines Government under attack

Baby Milk Action launched a campaign of international solidarity with the Philippines in November 2006 to help our IBFAN partners and WHO and UNICEF defend regulations introduced by the Department of Health.

Some facts about the Philippines

30% of Filipinos live on under 1$ a day and 60% do not have access to safe water. Yet only 16% of Filipino babies are exclusively breastfed until 5 months and, according to the World Health Organisation, 16,000 babies die each year due to inappropriate feeding. A significant factor is formula promotion and sponsorship. Milk is one of the most highly advertised and profitable products in the Philippines - 99% of it imported.

Industry challenges marketing regulations

In August 2006 the Department of Health tried to do something to improve the protection of breastfeeding by introducing Revised Implementing Rules and Regulation (RIRR) under provisions in the 1986 Milk Code. These new rules were immediately challenged in court by the Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines (PHAP), which includes companies such as Abbott Ross, Mead Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth and Gerber (as part of Novartis). The President of the US Chamber of Commerce, Mr Thomas Donahue, wrote to President Arroyo warning of “the risk to the reputation of the Philippines as a stable and viable destination for investment” if she did not “re-examine this regulatory decision”. Four days later the Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision and suspended the regulations.

ARUGAAN, our IBFAN partner in the Philippines, organised a national petition and requested help. IBFAN released Mr. Donahue's letter and Baby Milk Action organised a petition. In November our Policy Director, Patti Rundall, was invited to the Philippines by UNICEF and spoke on television and at the Congress.

Although the print media was initially reluctant to upset the companies who are all big advertisers, once the TV and radio programmes went out and celebrities such as Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Zoe Wannamaker and Glenys Kinnock, leading NGOs and hundreds of individuals sent messages of support, the campaign became front page news day after day. In December we took the messages to the Philippines Ambassador and Minister in London with the former Bishop of Coventry and Peter Greaves, former Snr Nutritionist at UNICEF.

See our press release on visiting the Philippines Embassy.

Emma Thompson

‘I’m appalled at this attack on the Philippine Department of Health’s courageous action. Surely every government has the right to regulate the marketing of baby foods as they see fit?'
Emma Thompson
As mothers gathered at the Supreme Court (right) the Ass. Solicitor General, Nestor J. Ballocillo, and his 21-year-old son were shot. The Solicitor General has suggested there may be a connection to this case and the President has offered a 1 million peso reward for information. Whether there was a link or not, our partners are nervous, but committed and need continued international support.
Supreme Court action 6 December 2006

150 mothers who had stopped breastfeeding after seeing company promotion claiming formula gave their children benefits, such as improved intelligence. went to the Supreme Court calling for the RIRR to stand.

In launching their campaign, one thousand mothers took decorated umbrellas to a park in Manila.

See UNICEF's press release.

Manila park demonstration

Though Nestlé is not part of the legal action, it has opposed key parts in the regulations, such as its scope, which includes products for infants up to 2 years of age. It also uses misleading claims.

Nestlé's infant formula labels (right) and its advertisements for follow-on milks in the Philippines claim they contain 'Brain Building Blocks', underming the 'breastmilk is best' message required by the existing regulations.

Nestlé infant formula
Although the biggest ingredient in Mead Johnson's infant formula, Alacta, (right) is corn syrup solids, it claims to contain 'FibreCal' and 'DHA precursor with Brain nutrients'.
Alacta Philippines

The industry strikes back

Arguing that the new regulations would affect the "investment and expansion plans" of key milk manufacturers, the industry has gone on the offensive in the media as well as through the courts. A PHAP advertisement in February - supposedly for breastfeeding - in fact undermined it by presenting nine reasons why mothers stopped breastfeeding. In fact, in nearly all the cases cited, given the correct support and advice problems could be overcome so breastfeeding could continue with no need for artificial feeding. WHO and UNICEF responded with adverts exposing the misinformation. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Zeigler, stepped in to offer his support for the government action, announcing publicly that he is 'appalled' at the PHAP advertising.

For more information and how you can help see:

UN HIV Policy changed as research shows exclusive breastfeeding cuts death toll

The protection and promotion of breastfeeding has been ranked as the most cost-effective intervention for child survival, and could prevent 13–15% of child deaths in low-income countries. A 2006 investigation into a serious outbreak of diarrhoea in Botswana highlighted again the danger of artificial feeding: 93% of the infants admitted to hospital were not breastfeeding, and these children had the greatest risk of dying. However, the knowledge that breastfeeding can also transmit HIV to children has created a dilemma for parents and health policy makers and has undermined infant feeding policies in many countries - a situation that has been exploited to the full by the baby food industry. Since 1999 researchers in South Africa have been pointing to evidence that exclusive breastfeeding reduced the transmission of the HIV virus, at least for the first 3 months. But since the studies were not specifically designed to address this question, no one knew for sure how significant exclusive breastfeeding was. The world needed more evidence.

Now, at last, the results of a new meticulous, independently funded, 6-year prospective study have been published by The Lancet (Mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 infection during exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months of life: Coovadia et al., Lancet March 31 2007; 369: 1107–16 Exclusive Breastfeeding and HIV W.Holmes, F Savage 1065-1066)

The study of over 2,722 children in KwaZulu–Natal, South Africa found that mixed and replacement feeding presents an unacceptable risk to infant survival. In relation to HIV transmission, when HIV-positive mothers breastfed exclusively, their babies had a lower risk of infection with HIV than those with any type of mixed feeding. Adding formula to breastfeeding nearly doubled transmission risk and the addition of solids increased the risk 11-fold. Importantly, the study also showed that mortality by 3 months of age for replacement-fed babies (15%) was more than double that of those who were exclusively breastfed (6%). The study also demonstrated the effectiveness and feasibility of interventions to promote exclusive breastfeeding.

  • Ahead of The Lancet publication, but already in response to all the new in response to all the new evidence, WHO held a Technical Consultation on HIV and Infant Feeding in Geneva in October 2006, updating its recommendations on infant feeding. A new UN Consensus Statement was adopted saying: “Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for HIV-infected women for the first 6 months of life unless replacement feeding is acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe for them and their infants before that time.... Breastfeeding mothers of infants and young children who are known to be HIV-infected should be strongly encouraged to continue breastfeeding....Governments should ensure that the package of interventions referenced above, as well as the conditions described in current guidance, are available before any distribution of free commercial infant formula is considered.” See:

  • Not everyone in the UN system seems to be fully aware of the new statement. To the Indian media UNAIDS chief in India, Dr Dennis Broun said: “This research is a highly significant input but much more evidence is required for a formal recommendation to be made regarding exclusively breast feeding of children.”

Self regulation - who does it benefit?

Baby Milk Action and Initiativ Liewensufank represent IBFAN on the Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health - the European Commission's experiment to see if the food industry can make voluntary committments that will reverse the rise in obesity and food related diseases. The industry stands to gain much from this process and argues that trust and self regulation rather than legislation is the best way forward.

At the February meeting this notion was blown apart by a presentation by Corinna Hawkes of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. Corinna looked at the global growth of self-regulation and showed that it does not wark as a way to limit the extent and impact of marketing. Instead, self-regulatory systems promote trust in advertising among consumers and governments, undermining their resolve to bring in the legislation that is needed to protect health. Under these systems the volume of advertising increases.

Nailing the point home, to the evident distress of the companies, Sue Davies presented the Which? report, Food Fables. She brilliantly exposed the weaknessess of Nestlé, McDonalds, Kelloggs and other companies' policies and compared them to their actual practices.

or click here to download the report.

UN critique of partnerships

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) and UN-business partnerships (UNBPs) are pushed as the solution to everything from development to climate change to health. But whose interests do they really serve? The authors of a new publication by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) entitled Beyond Pragmatism: Appraising UN-Business Partnerships identify a clear need for more critical thinking in relation to PPPs and UN-BPs to ensure that they are compatable with the mandate of the UN and do not legitimise corporate power - acting as a broker for foreign investors in developing countries.

Report available at or click here to go direct to the page.

  • Chris Holmes, Head of the Department of Health’s Social Marketing Programme was formerly with Kraft and Nestlé selling chocolate. Speaking at a Healthy Living Seminar in November, he stressed the importance of breastfeeding in obesity prevention but also suggested that nothing can be achieved through confrontation or blame and that we should all work together in partnership. We highlighted the risks of such thinking, reminding the meeting of how industry invariably fights and undermines governments' attempts to legislate effectively.

UK authorities crack down on illegal claims

Following the adoption of the new EU Directive (2006/141/EC), the UK Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations (1995) must be revised by the end of 2007.

But before this happens the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) have taken action over the many illegal health claims that companies use on labels and infant formula promotions in supermarkets such as: Omega 3 LCPs for development. Nucleotides help growth and the immune system. Beta-carotene helps the immune system, Prebiotics supporting baby’s natural defences, Closer than ever to breast milk.

The Law has stated for the past 12 years that: "The labelling of an infant formula shall include a claim concerning the composition of the product ONLY when... the claim is listed in column 1 of Schedule 4, and is expressed in the terms there set out... [our emphasis]"

The 7 claims listed in Schedule 4 that are permitted are: adapted protein; low sodium; sucrose free; lactose only; lactose free; iron enriched and reduction of risk to allergy to milk proteins. Any other claim is illegal.

  • In November 2006 we met with LACORS and made this point once again and presented evidence of company use of health claims and promotion of infant formula in supermarkets. LACORS subsequently wrote to Trading Standards Officers and the FSA wrote to baby food companies pointing out which claims are specifically permitted and which are not. LACORS made the very important point that it was irrelevant whether the claims were 'true' because the aim of the law is to protect breastfeeding. We applaud this action and hope that the same logic will be used when the new legislation is implemented. Claims on breastmilk substitutes are inappropriate, highly promotional and invariably misleading. The highlighting of one or other ingredient inevitably implies that the product has a health advantage over breastfeeding - which is never promoted in the same way. If a particular ingredient has been proven - through independently funded and reviewed research - to be safe and useful then it should be a legal requirement in all formulas - not used as a lure to make parents spend more. All ingredients should be listed clearly in the nutrition panel.

Claims allowed in the new Directive

Nine claims will be permitted by the new EU Directive. All, apart from the Lactose claims, are highly promotional. We are lobbying for these claims to be placed at the BACK of the package - next to the nutrition panel in a non-promotional way. The 8 permitted nutrition claims are: Lactose only, Lactose free, added LCP; docosahexaenoic acid; Taurine; fructo-oligosaccharides; galactooligosaccharides; nucleotides plus one disease risk reduction claim relating to a reduction of risk to allergy to milk proteins. The Directive does not mention the terms 'HA' or 'Hypoallergenic.'

Wyeth/SMA plans new closer to breastmilk promotion

See the Campaigns Coordinator's blog and our film clip about the new SMA logo.


Risky formula: who's telling the truth - FSA, WHO or Cow&Gate?

In response to the 2005 WHA Resolution stating that parents should be informed through an explicit warning that powdered infant formula may contain pathogenic microorganisms, the Food Standards Agency held a meeting in January to discuss its research on public understanding of the term 'non-sterile' and attitudes to labelling. It concluded that parents do need to be made aware of the reasons for any change in advice. See:

In April, WHO published its Guidelines for the safe preparation, storage and handling of powdered infant formula. See:

Meanwhile Cow&Gate (a subsidiary of NUMICO) is approaching Infection Control Nurses offering to help them conform to Government advice. Its paper is full of half-truths and incorrect information and terminolgy, designed to appear responsible but fudging the real issue. For example, it claims formula is "intrinsically very safe" and that it's more 'practical' for parents to use cool boiled water and feed immediately, rather than water at 70 degrees - the single most effective decontamination step which WHO experts say could reduce the risk 10,000-fold.

Advertising Standards Authority acts!

In November the ASA found that Cow & Gate could not substantiate its claim: "Our range of follow-on milks all contain a bunch of goodies called prebiotics to help build natural defences." The ASA said future claims should only refer to 'some natural defences'.

In February it ruled against a Redbush Tea advert which claimed it "could safely be added to formula instead of water and was clinically prescribed for babies for any purpose."

Find out more on the Campaigns Coordinator's blog:

One cheer for the Advertising Standards Authority (Cow & Gate case)

Ruling against Redbush tea advertisement

Help strengthen the UK law

In 1995 Baby Milk Action, all the leading health professional and mothersupport groups, Tony Blair and the Labour Party opposed the UK Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations for being too weak. Following concerted campaigning by Baby Milk Action and the Baby Feeding Law Group, the Government has pledged to strengthen the law. The coming months will put this committment to the test. For examples of aggressive marketing practices used by companies in the UK, see our Hard Sell Formula pamphlet.

Update 3 July 2007: The government has now launched the consultation on the redrafted legislation. Click here for details of the consultation. The points we make in our suggested letter are all still relevant.

Send a letter to the Food Standards Agency

Write to: Derek Hampson, Nutrition Division, Food Standards Agency Room 115B, Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6NH. (Derek.hampson<AT> along the following lines:

"I am very pleased that Government intends to strengthen the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations and hope that the new law will be fully in line with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly. In particular it should:

  • ban all promotion of breastmilk substitutes (including follow-on formula and bottles and teats)

  • prohibit baby feeding companies from seeking direct or indirect contact with mothers (including a clear ban on company 'carelines', pamphlets, mailshots, emails and promotional websites),

  • prohibit sales incentives for marketing personnel employed by manufacturers of distributors of breastmilk substitutes,

  • prohibit all idealizing text and images from all breastmilk substitutes,

  • prohibit company-produced or sponsored materials on infant feeding (the Government must provide objective information on infant feeding, avoiding conflicts of interest in funding infant feeding programmes),

  • require any permitted claims to be placed at the back of the package near the nutrition panel in specified text,

  • require clear warnings about the fact infant formula is not a sterile product and may contain harmful bacteria, alongside clear instructions on how to reduce risks from possible intrinsic contamination,

  • prohibit the promotion of names associated with breastmilk substitutes (ie brand names and company names),
  • restrict information for health professionals to scientific and factual matters with no idealising text or images,

  • prohibit promotion in health care facilities and gifts to health workers (samples for evaluation only),

  • prohibit the promotion of any product targeting babies under 6 months (complementary foods should not be marketed in ways that undermine breastfeeding).


US and EU help companies push sugar

Policy makers are at last recognising that breastfeeding and appropriate and timely complementry feeding provides an ideal window of opportunity for obesity prevention and may help in the development of taste receptors and appeitite control. Not only are the sugars in processed baby milks and foods very different from those found in breastmilk and fresh foods but the levels present are often far too high. (See Alacta fomula example above).

At the Codex meeting in Thailand in November, the Thai Government tried to do something about this.

What is Codex?

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is a UN body set up in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and codes of practice.

The establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995 gave Codex a new status since WTO is mandated to refer to Codex Standards in trade disputes.

Codex has two objectives: to protect health of the consumers and to ensure fair trade practices in the food trade, which are interpreted narrowly by the food industry to mean the facilitation of trade. The industry turns out in force for every meeting. Over 100 were present in Thailand, half of them on government delegations. Nine of the 11 Chinese delegates, one of the two Belgian, one of the 2 Swiss and 2 of the 3 Dutch were from industry. The UK and Canadian delegations were industry free.

We attend Codex meetings as IBFAN or IACFO (International Association of Consumer Food Organisations).

For IBFAN information see the Codex Working Group pages on: or

The Thai Government proposed that the maximum sugar levels in baby foods should be reduced from 30% to10% of calories. This sensible suggestion - which is in line with WHO's Expert recommendations on calorie intake - was blocked by the United States and the European Commission. Baby Milk Action joined Norway, Indonesia and the IBFAN team in support of Thailand.

We were not able to prevent the Codex standard permitting the addition of cocoa to foods for babies of 6 months. If, in addition governments allow certain nutrition claims, the product labels may give parents the impression that a sweet chocolate flavour food is good for health. Nestlé is already compiling a dossier for their lobby to have health claims on chocolate.

After 10 years of struggle and several important strengthenings, the Codex Standard for Infant Formula and Formulas for Special Medical Purposes reached Step 8. It will go to the Labelling Committee in Canada in May before final adoption at the Codex Commission in Rome in July 2007. The food industry lobby for permission to use health and nutrition claims was thwarted by Australia's successful insertion of this text: "The Guidelines for Use of Nutrition and Health Claims apply to infant formula and formula for special medical purposes for infants. These requirements include a prohibition on the use of nutrition and health claims for foods for infants and young children except where specifically provided for in relevant Codex Standards or national legislation." The industry opposed the need for warnings on labels about possible presence of bacteria in powdered infant formula and insisted that a reference to ‘safe water’ was sufficient. The agreed text refers to 'boiled water' and 'Good Hygienic Practice'.

Transfats and fibre

Speaking for IACFO we called for Codex to set maximum limits on Trans-Fatty Acids, as Denmark has done. This was opposed by industry and the EU Commission who later initiated legal proceedings against Denmark. In January four MEPs tabled a Written Declaration 'regretting' the Commission's action and calling for legislation limiting Trans-Fatty Acids. see

European Charter on Counteracting Obesity

We represented IBFAN at the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Counteracting Obesity in Turkey.

The Charter that was adopted calls for the promotion of breastfeeding and the regulation of food marketing to children.

For further information see:
www.epha. org/a/2360

Gerber, Nestlé and FTSE4Good

Novartis was admitted to the FTSE4Good ethical investment index last year on the promise that its Gerber subsidiary would abide by the baby food marketing criteria. No changes were seen on the ground despite our calls for feeding bottle promotions to be removed from the Gerber site. Gerber's CEO, Mr Kurt Schmidt, replied to say the website has a 'breast is best' note, and that seemed to be the end of it. See our Campaign for Ethical Marketing action sheet.

Mr Schmidt now reports to Nestlé (excluded from the FTSE4Good Index) as on April 12th Novartis sold Gerber to Nestlé for US$ 5.5 bn. Gerber has an incredible 82% share of the US baby food market, a result of its US$13.8m annual ad. spend, contacting mothers several times a year. A format Nestlé says its keen to follow. Gerber also leads the baby food market in Mexico, Latin America and Poland.

Bounty helps HIPP

The business website of Bounty, which provides gift packs to new mothers, reveals how leaflets and foods for older babies are part of a strategy to sell more formula. It says: "HiPP were also keen to drive traffic to the HiPP website in order to increase awareness and understanding of the full product range, including the HiPP Organic milks range." It worked, achieving 6,953 visits to the 'Your Pregnancy' section and over 12,000 registrations for further information. 19,765 entered a HIPP competition.

Nestlé warned in US

The US Food & Drug Administration criticised Nestlé in November for refusing to withdraw infant formula without the correct levels of Calcium and Phosphorous.

See the Campaign Coordinator's blog:

And The Times, 15 December 2006.

Breast-fed babies climb social ladder

Data drawing on children born in the 1920s and 1930s indicates that those who were breastfed were 41% more likely to move up at least one social class than those who were fed cow’s milk - the then alternative. The longer a child was breast-fed the greater its chances of upward social mobility. See:,,2012380,00.html

Keep up-to-date with research:

Milk mad logo removed from M & S

This Milk Mad design on a babygro was taken off sale by Marks & Spencer's after just one day of complaint from the Royal College of Midwives and the Baby Feeding Law Group. A moment of sanity!
Milk Mad logo

Farewell Alison and Gary

First port of call to Baby Milk Action has - for the past 8 years - been Alison Mortlock, our Office Manager. Alison played a vital role in keeping us on track, on budget and focussed and also masterminded the office move and all our merchandise - all this work way beyond the call of duty. We owe her an enormous debt of gratitude and wish her well in her new post at Fauna and Flora. Hello to Sarah our new Office Manager. Brave girl!

Alison with Steve Coogan

Alison holding the boom as we interview Steve Coogan at the Perrier Awards in Edinburgh (2001) - click here for a clip.

Farewell also to Gary Woolley, who has stood down as Chair of our Board after 9 years. Gary has played a vital role in our governance and management and will be greatly missed.


Patrice Jelliffe With great sadness we mark the death on 14th March of Patrice Jelliffe (1920-2007). Patrice was co-author, with her husband Derek, of Human Milk in the Modern World, the seminal work which acknowledged the crucial importance of breastfeeding in the 20th Century. Patrice gave Derek unflinching support until he died in 1992.

As Gay Palmer said of their book: "At the time (1978) it was like water to a thirsty person. No one had written about breastfeeding in the big context before"

Patrice Jelliffe 1993

Patrice (2nd left) with Michael Latham (left) & Elisabeth Helsing (Right) Jelliffe Mem. Lecture '93

Petranella Clarke (1938 -2007) We send our love to the family of Petra Clarke who died in January. Petra was always honest about the political constraints of her position as Snr. Medical Officer at the Department of Health from 1986-98. She was very supportive of breastfeeding and our work, including in her role as a Member of the Church of England's General Synod.,,2022183,00.html.


Nestlé boycott news

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

Thanks Rebecca!

Click here for other great logos to download for t-shirts, badges, bags, stickers or whatever you want!


Fight the Nestlé monster

Nestlé links to children's charities

Boycott supporters turned up at the British Library on 13 December for the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize Award ceremony giving out leaflets explaining Nestlé’s record in violating children’s rights. Several of those who attended commented on the strangeness of the ceremony. Organisers had not publicised the time in advance, nor were the media invited! The protest was publicised in France and on the Teachers TV channel.

Click here for our press release.

Click here for educational resources and the clip from Teachers TV.

  • Nestlé has also linked its name with the 4children initiative, Make Space Youth Forum. Though this may be a worthy cause, it serves to gain Nestlé good publicity to divert criticism of its baby food marketing, including apparently a name check from former MP and poverty campaigner, Oona King, a supporter of the initiative. Nestlé's Chief Executive, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, is on the record as saying support for charitable causes is only justifiable if it benefits investors (see Update 36 and the Campaign Coordinator's blog).

AMT dumps Kit Kats

AMT dumps Kit Kats sign

AMT, which serves Fairtrade-marked tea and coffee at many railway station kiosks, has responded to consumer demand by dumping Nestlé Kit Kats.

It says it is looking for a bar to complement its coffee, presumably one that is not on a boycott list.

As well as the baby milk issue, Kit Kat is tainted because Nestlé has apparently failed to act on child slavery in its cocoa supply chain and has been taken to court in the US.

It all goes to show it is well worth filling in customer comment cards! Order our 'Nescafé - No Thanks!' cards for leaving at places that do not offer an alternative.

Illegal sponsorship in India

We launched a campaign in support of colleagues in India who found Nestlé sponsoring health worker symposia and music events in breach of legislation introduced in 2003.

Nestlé replied, citing the 1992 law, claiming it was doing nothing wrong. Nestlé also denied a report that a representative gave leaflets on infant formula to mothers in a clinic, saying it had conducted an investigation.

The doctor who reported the indicident said he was aware of no Nestlé investigation and said he certainly had not been contacted. He stood by his report.

You can send letters to keep up the pressure on unethical corporations - see our Campaign for Ethical Marketing action sheet for details and Nestlé's response.

Seeing through Nestlé's transparency

In February Nestlé boasted on the front page of its global website that it had received a 'positive rating' in the One World Trust Global Accountability Report 2006.

Nestlé pointed out it had scored 5th highest in transparency of all 30 organisations rated. In fact this was a score of a little over 50% - simply for having some policies in place. Significantly, the quality of its information disclosure policy was rated as 0% (yes, zero %).

It scored 52% in another section for claiming to have an infant formula ombudsman. We wrote to the ombudsman when the post was announced and never received a reply. Does the post exist?

Nestlé did not make the list of 8 organisations that had scored more than half marks in more than 2 sections.

Not so much a positive rating as a positive cheek!

Click here to read the Global Accountability Report for yourself.

Click here for the Campaigns Coordinator's blog.

Fairtrade offensive

Nestlé was again on the offensive, advertising how it is helping to end the coffee crisis with its Partners' Blend brand of coffee, the only product in its portfolio of 8,500 to have a Fairtrade mark. Nestlé is blamed for contributing to the coffee crisis through its trading practices and encouraging more farmers to grow coffee, so exacerbating the problem of over supply.
Partners' Blend 2007

Our special leaflets highlighting the baby milk issue and giving key figures about Nestlé and coffee proved a popular download from the website during the FairTrade Fortnight in March.

Nestlé has recently re-launched Partners' Blend with new packaging. Could it be Fairtrade shoppers are not taken in and go for products from companies without Nestlé's appalling record?

Nestlé demo. and International Nestlé-free week

Nestle Annual Demo: 19 May 2007 - 11-12.00 Demonstration at Nestlé (UK) HQ in Croydon and at other Nestlé sites and Body Shop outlets around the country. See our sign up form.

Nestlé-free week: 2-8 July 2007 -The 4 July marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of the first Nestlé boycott, which helped to bring about the International Code of Marekting of Breastmilk Substitutes. The second boycott, launched when Nestlé failed to respect the Code, has brought some changes, but Nestlé continues to break the Code and subsequent Resolutions systematically where it has not been introduced into law. To mark the anniversary of the first boycott Baby Milk Action and Boycott partners have declared the week to be International Nestléfree Week and will be holding events around the world. Those who are not supporting the boycott, or only boycott Nescafé (the principal target in the UK), will be encouraged to give up all Nestlé products for at least these 7 days and to spread the word.

Click here for our new Nestlé-free Zone materials.