Press releases

Nestle infiltrated campaign group - court orders payment of damages and costs

Press release - 26 January 2013

Baby Milk Action, which coordinates a boycott of Nestlé over its aggressive marketing of baby milks, has just learned that Nestlé has been ordered by a Swiss court to pay damages and costs to members of Attac Switzerland, after infiltrating the group with spies who reported to a former MI6 officer working for Nestlé. Securitas, which ran the spies for Nestlé, has also been ordered to pay the campaigners.

STOP PRESS: decision on GAIN deferred -- GAIN – the Trojan Horse entering WHO’s policy setting process?

STOP PRESS:  (29.1.13) - excellent news -  GAIN's application fails. 




22nd January 2013

GAIN – industry's Trojan Horse to enter WHO’s policy setting process?



While the WHO Reform Process proceeds this week at WHO’s 132nd Executive Board meeting in Geneva,   IBFAN, the global network that works to protect infant health by strengthening independent, transparent and effective controls on the baby food industry, has issued a stark warning. Today, in a closed meeting, the Standing Committee on NGOs (consisting of 5 countries: Armenia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Seychelles and Ecuador) will consider an application for NGO official relations status with WHO from GAIN (the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition). GAIN is a new type of public private entity which claims to works to tackle malnutrition - but in reality is working to open up markets for its 600 partner companies ( including  Danone, the world’s second largest baby food company, Mars, Pepsi, and Coca Cola) .  


IBFAN is concerned and has evidence that GAIN is actively undermining governments' attempts to implement WHA Resolutions on infant and young child feeding.  It is illogical for Member States  to allow such a controversial accreditation to go through while they are demanding , in the Reform Process process, more clarity on WHOs conflicts of interest procedures.  Moreover, this application comes just as WHO is working on the guidelines for the marketing of complementary foods – a key policy issue that GAIN is keen to influence.  


WHO Member States need to ensure that WHO is working impartially in the interests of public health and that the NGOs WHO collaborates with are committed to working to that end. 

For more information and specific examples about how GAIN undermines existing WHA Resolutions  please see the Note 1 or follow this link:


IBFAN has been contributing to the debate about WHO's Reform Process, particularly on the issue of Conflicts of Interest.   In this context IBFAN welcomes the proposals for a policy on engagement with NGOs and has several recommendations for its improvement, which will be offered  to Member States tomorrow:


1  While transparency and public disclosure of WHO’s interaction with NGOs and the Private Sector is both necessary and critical, it is insufficient.

2  WHO must develop a comprehensive policy on conflicts of interest with criteria that distinguishes between bodies with a commercial interest in WHO policies and those who do not.

3  Attempting to address this issue on a case-by-case basis will be subjective, insufficient and may involve substantial administrative costs. WHO and MS must establish objective criteria defining cut off points regarding acceptable levels of commercial involvement, partnership and funding. 

4  There are now many 'hybrid' NGOs that are partnerships with business or front organisations for them. These bodies - (which IBFAN calls BINGOs - Business Interest NGOs) often have multiple purposes. Alongside the public health objective they usually assist commercial companies in the creation of markets for their products.  So the criteria must not only look at direct commercial financing but also  'mission' and the composition of decision-making structures.   Once set, these bench marks can be used to frame WHO’s collaboration, consultation and accreditation process.  

5  Such a differentiation would not preclude WHO from hearing the views of the private sector, but would ensure that all its relations and interactions with external bodies would be coherently and transparently guided by a clear policy understandable to all.  We believe that this would be one important way to safeguard WHO's norms and standard setting processes. 


Note 1  see THIS LINK

  In October IBFAN learned that GAIN had been challenging the Kenya government about its proposed new law on the marketing of baby foods. In its lobby paper GAIN implied that proceeding with the law would threaten "Kenya's ability to meet its commitments as a Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) country." Thankfully Kenya went ahead with the Law. At the Codex Alimentarius meetings GAIN consistently lobbies for companies to be allowed to use promotional claims – knowing that this would prevent Member States from banning such tactics.   In December GAIN's lack of transparency was demonstrated in an exchange in the British Medical Journal,  which challenged the groundbreaking baby food law in India that has been so critical in the protection of breastfeeding and child health.



For more information: 


Patti Rundall, Co-Chair, IBFAN/Baby Milk Action  +44 7786 523493

Ina Verzivolli, Human Rights Officer, IBFAN/GIFA

Lida Lhotska, IBFAN Regional Coordinator, IBFAN/GIFA



International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) a global network of 250 citizens groups in 166 countries.


Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland called on to show leadership over formula awards for health workers

Baby Milk Action press release 19 January 2013

Members of the Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland have written to their Chief Executive Officer calling for the Board to remind members of the requirements regarding independence. This follows the attempt of formula companies to attach their band names to health workers through sponsoring awards organised by Maternity and Infant magazine. Last November, Philomena Canning refused her award when she learned it would have branded her the SMA Midwife of the Year. The letter points out that the Code of Professional Conduct states: "The nurse should avoid the use of professional qualifications in the promotion of commercial products".

No response has been received from the Board at the time of writing.

Nestle and co's US$400 million threat against the Philippines

Baby Milk Action press release 3 December 2012

Campaigners in the Philippines are exposing a threat levelled at the economy by Nestlé and other transnational companies if baby milk marketing regulations successfully defended in 2007 are not scrapped. Nestlé and its partners are pushing for a new, weak law to be introduced, which will allow them to advertise milks for use from 6 months of age (with the same branding as milks for use from birth) and target mothers directly. The companies have the Department of Trade and Industry lobbying legislators on their behalf, while the Department of Health, WHO and UNICEF have said in joint statement that the draft bill: "aims to support multinational companies while damaging the Filipino society: families, the mothers and children."

Regulations successfully defended in 2007 when challenged by the pharmaceutical industry at the Supreme Court regulate the promotion of foods for infants and young children up to three years of age as health officials attempt to prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths occurring every year. Other countries such as Brazil (where breastfeeding rates have increased markedly since a low in the 1970s) have introduced similar regulations in implementing marketing standards adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981. 

A petition on the Avaaz site has already gained thousands of signatures and been reported in the Philippines.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), however, has publicly stated as it lobbies on the industry's behalf that if the draft bill is not passed by Congress: "The proposed  ban on advertising for milk products jeopardizes multinationals’ plan to invest $400 million".

Campaigners have already pointed out that elections for congress take place in 2013 and they have been hearing politicians warned that investment in their constituencies will be cancelled if they do not back the bill.

ASA: Pfizer/Wyeth email promoted SMA formula in breach of advertising rules

Press release 28 November 2012

Pfizer/Wyeth has another ruling against it today from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following a complaint brought by Baby Milk Action, this time against an email campaign for its SMA brand of formula. The email headed "How is feeding going?" was aimed at mothers with four-week-old babies and played on fears about milk intake and possible problems with breastfeeding before asking "Thinking of bottle feeding?" and promoting SMA infant formula with a claim it contains a fat blend closer to breastmilk. 

Nestle tries to undermine International Nestle-Free Week with KitKat announcement

Baby Milk Action press release 28 October 2012

In an attempt to divert attention from International Nestlé-Free Week (29 October - 4 November 2012), Nestlé - one of the most boycotted companies on the planet over its baby milk marketing - has announced that its two-finger KitKat chocolate bars will bear the Fairtrade logo from January 2013. International Nestlé-Free Week is a time for people who boycott Nestlé over the way it pushes baby milk to do more to promote the boycott - and for those who don't boycott to give it a go. Nestlé has also spent the past year setting up a special centre to monitor comments about it online so its agents can step in when it is criticised.

The announcement, made simultaneously by Nestlé (UK) and the UK Fairtrade Foundation on 26 October comes as thousands of boycott supporters have emailed Nestlé executives calling on them to respect international minimum standards for the marketing of baby milks and thousands have signed a petition of solidarity with the Philippines, where Nestlé is attempting to weaken regulations introduced to protect parents and health workers from misleading marketing. Baby Milk Action has produced a leaflet explaining "Why boycott Nestlé Fairtrade KitKat" with key facts on the baby milk issue, as well as concerns about Nestlé's sourcing of cocoa and other business practices. 

Happy birthday ASA? How the Advertising Standards Authority fails to protect babies and their families in the UK.

Press release 25 October 2012

The industry-funded UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is holding an event today to celebrate its 50 years of ensuring advertising is "legal, decent, honest and truthful".

Baby Milk Action is launching a new report on its experiences reporting baby milk advertising that shows this slogan does not stand up. Click here to download.

SMA formula NOT "the best milk after Kate's" ASA ruling finds

Press release 19 September 2012

Media coverage: Dairy reporter

In a national billboard, print and online advertising campaign in March 2012, Wyeth (part of Pfizer, in the process of being purchased by Nestlé) promoted its formula in a series of advertisements showing mothers with young children under headlines: "What's the best milk after Kate's?", "What's the best milk after Lisa's?"etc.

Wyeth SMA advertisement

Following complaints by Baby Milk Action and other groups and individuals, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled the answer is NOT SMA formula.

In a ruling published today it warns Pfizer not to repeat the advertisements after finding: "the ads misleadingly implied that follow-on milk was the best alternative to breast milk" and "the ads misleading implied that SMA Follow-on milk was superior to other follow-on milks".

The ruling vindicates Baby Milk Action's successful "Stop Wyeth" campaign against Wyeth's SMA Baby Know How roadshow, which was to promote SMA formula in shopping centres in June and July 2012.

Wyeth continues to promote its formula to health workers with the claim "Drop for drop, no other formula comes close" safe in the knowledge that the ASA refuses to investigate advertising in health journals (see below).

Anyone wishing to support Baby Milk Action's work can report examples of promotion to the Baby Feeding Law Group monitoring project - click here.

Baby Milk Action also requires donations and income from membership for its work to continue - click here.

US Girl Scouts shamed by association with Nestle

US Girl Scouts have given their names to a Nestlé candy bar marketing campaign in a move that has shocked campaigners against Nestlé's unethical marketing of baby milk around the world. The deal comes as mothers in the Philippines battle to stop Nestlé drastically weakening legislation introduced to reverse the decline in breastfeeding in that country. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 16,000 babies die in the Philippines every year due to inappropriate feeding. Nestlé, the global market leader in baby milk, is the target of a boycott as monitoring finds it systematically violates internationally agreed marketing standards and is responsible for more violations than other companies. Campaigners are calling on Girl Scouts to ditch the Nestlé candy bars and send a message of solidarity to women in the Philippines.

MESSAGE TO DAVID CAMERON'S HUNGER SUMMIT - don't partner with food giants or forget breastfeeding and the underlying causes

Press Release: DAVID CAMERON'S HUNGER SUMMIT -  don't partner with food giants or forget breastfeeding and the underlying causes 

12th August 2012

Baby Milk Action welcomes David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister's call to address hunger,  but is concerned that part of the call could  promote partnerships with commercial companies that undermine child health. 


There are many underlying factors that exacerbate food shortages and hunger -  but when public private partnerships  (PPPs) are promoted as the solution there are many risks.  


'Partnerships' by their very nature involve shared  decision-making.   Not surprisingly,  the companies most keen to enter nutrition 'partnerships' are the ones that promote unhealthy foods and products and systematically  violate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes  and Resolutions -and  the WHO Guidelines on Marketing to Children.  


Patti Rundall, Policy Director of Baby Milk Action says: "PPPs can deter policy makers from taking the tough decisions to  control  marketing, encouraging them instead to opt for voluntary industry-friendly approaches, 'market-led' strategies that promote 'slightly better for you' junk foods alongside corporate-funded education programmes. Sadly these strategies can exacerbate the problem and lead to the double burden of malnutrition - both under and over nutrition.  If Governments are serious about finding long term sustainable solutions  to hunger it is essential that they address conflicts of interest properly and protect their health policy planning and implementation processes from undue influence from commercial companies.   Indeed the World Health Assembly in May 2012 - specifically called on governments to deal with conflicts of interest."     


Because the first two years of life of are so crucial, it is essential that governments  regulate and monitor marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding and sustainable, affordable nutritious family foods.  (2)


In 2011,  a Statement of Concern developed by the Conflicts of Interest Coalition (COIC) was endorsed by 161 national, regional and global networks and organisations working in public health and development.   The statement focused on the lack of clarity regarding the role of the private sector in public policy-making and calls for the development of a Code of Conduct and Ethical Framework to help protect the integrity of  public policy decision-making, to ensure it is transparent and to identify, safeguard against and manage potential conflicts of interest.

The COI Statement calls for:

  • a clear distinction to be made between business-interest not-for-profit organisations (BINGOs) and public interest non-governmental organisations (PINGOs) 
  • a clear  differentiation between policy and norms and standards development  and appropriate involvement in implementation. 


Notes for editors: 

Stunting - Stunting is caused by sub-optimal nutrition during pregnancy and  feeding in the first two years of life. Diarrhoea during infancy is a significant factor. WHO has documented the link between stunting, diarrhoea and lack of optimal breastfeeding especially during the first six months.  Good complementary feeding has also been recognised to significantly reduce stunting.  “Diarrhoea often leads to stunting in children due to its association with poor nutrient absorption and appetite loss. The risk of stunting in young children has been shown to increase significantly with each episode of diarrhoea and diarrhea control, particularly in the first six months of life, may help to reduce stunting prevalence among children.” 


Why protect breastfeeding?   There is no food more locally produced or sustainable than breastmilk. One-fifth of deaths among children less than five years could be prevented through optimal infant and young child feeding[1]  A breastfed child is less likely to suffer from gastroenteritis, respiratory and ear infections, diabetes, allergies and other illnesses. In areas with unsafe water a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea. Reversing the decline in breastfeeding could save 1.5 million lives around the world every year. Breastfeeding helps fulfill the UN Millennium Development Goals and has the potential to reduce under-5 mortality by 13%. A further 6% of deaths could be saved through appropriate complementary feeding. Breastfeeding also provides health benefits to the mother, such as reduced risk of some cancers.


In emergency situations infants and young children are at greater risk[2] [3] [4], for example, in Botswana in 2005/6 infants who were not breastfed were 50 times more likely to need hospital treatment, and much more likely to die[5]. Optimal infant and young child feeding and care of non-breastfed infants according to international guidelines[6] saves lives. Further children who are fed well in infancy are not only more likely to survive but also to reach their physical and cognitive potential. A failure to address infant and young child feeding needs both during and outside of emergencies will derail initiatives and efforts to reduce chronic undernutrition. 


1 Business of Malnutrition breaking down trade rules to profit from the poor

2 It is also essential to tackle sanitation, water and maternity protection, and acknowledge  the inter-related nature between nutrition, the right to food and health and sustainable livelihoods and economies and the root causes of poor nutrition of women, such as structural violence, inequality and discrimination. 



Emergency references [1] Jones, Gareth, et al., ‘How many child deaths can we prevent this year?’ The Lancet, vol. 362, no. 9377, 5 July 2003, pp. 65–71.



[4] WHO. Guiding Principles for Infant and Young Child feeding during Emergencies. 2004

[5] Creek T, ArveloW, Kim A, Lu L, Bowen A, Finkbeiner T, Zaks L, Masunge J, Shaffer N and Davis M. Role of infant feeding and HIV in a severe outbreak of diarrhea and malnutrition among young children, Botswana, 2006. Session 137 Poster Abstracts, Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Los Angeles, 25-28 February, 2007.

[6] IFE Core Group. Operational Guidance on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies. v2.1, Feb. 2007. This document  is endorsed by WHA: Resolution 63.23 (May, 2010)



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