the Milk of Human profits

Nestle have been accused by the World Development Movement (WDM) of breaching an International code about baby milk. The code aims to protect infant health by controlling the marketing of artificial milks and other baby foods which replace breastmilk.

The WDM have highlighted five areas where they believe Nestle are breaching the international Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981.
Manipulations of which Nestle stand accused are --

  •   Giving free samples to mothers, pregnant women and health workers.
  •   Displays and product promotion.
  •   Inducements to health workers.
  •   Gifts to mothers.
  •   Ingenious advertising strategies.

To look at each in turn --

Free samples
Nestle violated the code by giving free samples of one of its products to health workers in eleven countries and to mothers in eight countries.

Displays and product promotion
Nestle violated the code by using posters and calendars in health care facilities to advertise its products in Indonesia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Cote d'Ivoire.

Inducements to health workers
Nestle violated the code by giving health-care workers in Gabon free key chains, wallets, examination lights and cartons of alcohonl swabs. One doctor in Gabon reported receiving an expensive watch engraved with the name Nestle.

Gifts to Mothers
Nestle violated the code by ditributing bibs, spoons, plates and hats marked with the name of one of its products Cerelac in Cote d'Ivoire. In the Phillipines, mothers were invited to exchange 60 scoops from tins of Nestogen for a water pitcher.

Ingenious advertising strategies
Nestle violated the code by using the name 'Bear Brand' in Thailand, and identical logos to cover five different products -- including infant formula as well as milks for older children and adults. The effect is to blur the line between the products.

Action :
Mother Earth is sympathetic to the boycott of Nestle products. Get in touch with Baby Milk Action and the World Development Movement for updates on the campaign.

Baby Milk Action
23 St. Andrew's Street
Cambridge CB2 3AX

Telephone: 44(0)1223 464420
World Development Movement
25 Beehive Place
London, SW9 7QR

Telephone: 44(0)171 274 7630
Fax: (0)171 274 8232

Further reading --
Engineering Consent: Uncovering Corporate PR
published by Corner House, March 1998.