Press releases

US government puts pressure on Vietnam to weaken advertising laws

 US government puts pressure on Vietnam to weaken advertising laws

IBFAN is now able to reveal how the US Government tried to interfere with the Vietnamese Government's legislative process as Parliament debated new moves to protect babies.


An official letter, dated June 13, from the US Embassy in Hanoi urged against a ban on advertising formula milk products for babies above the age of 12 months.  The letter, which was addressed to the Chairman of the National Assembly and copied to seven others, including three Ministers. The Assembly was set to vote on a proposal extending the ban on advertising from 12 to 24 months. To its credit, the Assembly adopted the proposal despite the threatening letter. IBFAN applauds the government of Vietnam for putting child health above corporate greed.

“Several US companies have contacted the US Embassy regarding their serious concerns” over the proposed ban, as it “could have a significant negative impact on their business in Vietnam. We share their concerns.” The letter thus clearly pinpoints the sellers of formula milks as the originators behind this extraordinary and unconscionable threat by a major donor country.

“We know who the sellers are”, says Annelies Allain of IBFAN’s Code Documentation Centre in Malaysia, “Abbott, Mead Johnson and Wyeth (owned by Pfizer) are all three big American players in this burgeoning market and want to make sure their profits are not curtailed”. She is angry that the letter equates advertising with “comprehensive information for consumers”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The real aim of advertising anywhere is to sell more. Companies use misleading claims and promotional messages to glorify their products - encouraging parents to believe that they are essential, that they have a health advantage, will improve vision, reduce allergies, make children more intelligent and gain weight.

In recent years, formula companies have introduced an array of powdered-milk products for older babies and toddlers. The main reason for the invention of these milks is to by-pass the restrictions of the Advertising Law, so the products and the companies can be advertised freely and, in the process, idealise formulas for younger babies with the same or very similar brands. Those formulas were not allowed to be advertised in order to protect breastfeeding. By extending the ban to 2 years, the Assembly closed a legal loophole.


The US letter says: “We have not seen a compelling scientific, legal or economic argument for changing the current regulatory regime…” Well, there are plenty scientific, legal and economic arguments warranting the extension of the ban on advertising to 24 months.

Here are some:

  • Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the promotion of breastfeeding is a legal obligation of the State. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has been urging Vietnam to strengthen its regulations.
  • WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond. These recommendations, based on scientific evidence, were endorsed by all Member States, including the US and the Vietnam governments. It follows therefore that there should be no advertising for breastmilk substitutes for at least two years.
  • At a recent conference in Da Nang: Viet Nam’s Institute of Legislative Studies stated that the protection of breastfeeding will ensure babies get the best nutrition source from their first hours of life till they reach two years of age. According to UNICEF's Legal Nutrition Advisor, David Clark: “Improper marketing and promotion of food products that compete with breastfeeding are important factors that often negatively affect the choice and ability of a mother to breastfeed her infant optimally. Given the special vulnerability of infants and the risks involved in inappropriate feeding practices, all promotion of breastmilk substitutes intended for use up to the age of 24 months should be banned, in accordance with the International Code.” “Early, exclusive and continued breastfeeding results in reduced illness during childhood and in later life. The savings from this reduction in illness are significant from a health systems perspective. It is estimated that optimal breastfeeding could save the Viet Nam health system USD 10 million per year”, said Ms. Nemat Hajeebhoy, Director of Alive & Thrive in VietNam.

WHO and UNICEF have long encouraged Vietnam to strengthen its regulations in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent Resolutions. On June 25th, the UN Representative in Vietnam congratulated the Government and the National Assembly for amending the Law on Advertising and for extending maternity leave.

Companies selling products for infants and young children, spend more than 30% of their overall costs on advertising and marketing, according to the Vietnam Ministry of Finance in 2010, in a survey following a price-hike of about 10%. Of course the consumer ends up paying for that.

“Implying as the US letter does, that the consumer would miss out on ‘comprehensive information’, if advertising were banned, is adding insult to injury”, says Allain of IBFAN. “Companies use advertising routinely to suggest that children will be smarter and stronger if they drink formula, but such claims are widely rejected by independent health professionals”.

“The Viet Nam government is absolutely justified in extending the ban on advertising”, says Yeong Joo Kean, Legal Advisor of IBFAN. “It is unacceptable for the US Embassy in Hanoi to protect greedy corporations who are responsible for so much unnecessary infant morbidity and mortality and to ignore the International Code which seeks to protect infant health. ”


The letter is also totally inconsistent with the 'new' Obama thinking, whose representative, Nils Daulaire, told the WHO Executive Board earlier this year that "... the [International] Code continues to be a central pillar of improved child nutrition and needs to be vigorously and universally supported, applied and enforced.”



This Press Release is issued by IBFAN-ICDC, Penang, Malaysia on 18 July 2012 Contacts: or 


Additional notes for editors:


“No infant formula contains the perfect combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to enhance infant growth and brain development as breastmilk does. No infant formula contains antibodies to protect infants against infection as breastmilk does. No infant formula is as safe to administer as breastmilk is. And no infant formula is as affordable to families as breastmilk in providing the perfect nutrition for infants while protecting them from infections.” UNICEF and WHO China Joint Statement on Contaminated Infant Formula, September 2008.

“In Viet Nam, what we need is to support and encourage mothers to breastfeed their children in the best way possible, that is: start breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, give nothing else but breastmilk from the first hour of birth up to the first six months of life and continue to breastfeed up to 24 months or longer. Investing in the health of our children in the first 1000 days of their lives, is the best investment we can make for the future human resource of Viet Nam”,
Ms. Nemat Hajeebhoy, Director of Alive & Thrive in Viet Nam.

Is there a need for formulas for older babies?


"Parents should feed young children ‘real’ foods alongside continued breastfeeding. Family foods can be easily adapted to suit the needs of young children. They do not miss essential nutrients as claimed by advertising. Indeed, there is no evidence that fortified formulas for older babies are needed at all and there is much concern about their role in encouraging childhood obesity. The formulas are expensive and often have high levels of sugar. They invariably share brands and logos with infant formulas, so promote the whole range." Patti Rundall, Baby Milk Action U.K.

● A report by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) (16.08.2011) found that ‘toddler’ milk does not offer any advantage compared to reduced fat cow milk. “From a nutritional and physiological point of view these special toddler milks are not necessary”, says BfR President, Professor Dr. Andreas Hensel. "The manufacturers of toddler milk drinks often refer to high consumption amounts on the packaging of their products. According to these recommended consumptions children would consume through children's milk alone high amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients. Within the framework of the overall diet this would favour in the long-term an oversupply with all nutrients. From a nutritional physiological and health point of view this is problematic."

● The Italian consumer association, Altroconsumo, analysed these products and published a statement very similar to the German one in 2009.

● A survey in 2010 by the Hong Kong Department of Health (HKSAR) found that “children who drank more milk (mainly formula milk) than the recommended volume generally consumed smaller amounts of grains, vegetables and fruits. Use of the bottle and parents’ misconceptions about the nutritional benefits of formula milk might have contributed to the high milk intake and the choice of milk.”

● Gooze et al, Prolonged Bottle Use and Obesity at 5.5 Years of Age in US Children J Pediatrics 2011, Sept; 159 (3):431-6

A survey by the German Consumer centres on the products being sold as “Kindermilch” (“milk for children”) targeting the age from 12 months, found that Kindermilch was up to four times more expensive than normal milk, costing parents up to 245 Euros more each year.


This Press Release is issued by IBFAN-ICDC, Penang, Malaysia on 18 July 2012 Contacts: or The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) is the 1998 Right Livelihood Award Recipient. It consists of more than 200 public interest groups working around the world to save lives of infants and young children by working together to bring lasting changes in infant feeding practices at all levels. IBFAN aims to promote the health and well-being of infants and young children and their mothers through protection, promotion and support of optimal breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding practices.IBFAN works for the universal and full implementation of ‘International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes’ and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions.

Wyeth cancels SMA Baby Know How roadshow following protests

Press release 22 June 2012

Wyeth has cancelled its much promoted SMA Baby Know How roadshow after shopping centres pulled out of the event. Members of the public sent messages of protest to the shopping centres in support of a Baby Milk Action 'Stop Wyeth' campaign. Baby Milk Action, a civil society organisation that aims to protect the right of mothers to independent, accurate information on infant feeding, highlights that companies are prohibited from seeking direct or indirect contact with mothers under internationally agreed marketing requirements and that Wyeth's advertising claims and labelling do not comply with UK marketing requirements (see notes).

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:

"National Breastfeeding Week is about to start, which reminds people of the health benefits of breastfeeding. Baby food companies seek to undermine breastfeeding to boost sales of their products. Company marketing strategies are also bad for mothers who use formula, who ultimately fund these self-serving marketing activities through higher prices. Hundreds of people have already signed our petition calling for baby milk companies to end promotion and make formula cheaper."

Click here for the petition on

The first event at Lakeside shopping centre on 14 June was cancelled the day before. The second event at Bluewater scheduled for 21 June was cancelled on 16 June, though Wyeth continued to advertise it until announcing the roadshow as a whole was 'postponed' on 20 June after other shopping centres also pulled out. Baby Milk Action is calling on the shopping centres to put in place policies to respect baby milk marketing requirements to prevent a repeat. Click here for email campaign.

Wyeth already has a criminal conviction for breaking the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations and complaints against its formula advertising have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority. Baby Milk Action had signed people up for protests at the shopping centres and continues to monitor the situation in case Wyeth's current owner, Pfizer, tries to relaunch the roadshow  (Nestlé's recent purchase of Wyeth is still going through regulatory approval).

Baby Milk Action had leaflets ready to distribute at the events had they gone ahead

Wyeth headed the webpage for its SMA Baby Know How roadshow as the 'London Blitz'. The stated purpose was described by its PR company as follows:

"The road-show is called SMA Baby Know-How and will be taking place at various shopping centres around London. The stand will be somewhere mums can get advice, meet other mums, demo a couple of SMA products and sign up to Know-How, our baby club. In addition, we’re going to have a number of competitions and giveaways on offer and will be offering mums a free mummy and baby photo on the stand." 

At the end of May, Baby Milk Action registered complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority and Trading Standards about Wyeth's direct marketing after a mother complained at the demoralising email she received when her baby was four weeks old. 

Wyeth emailOstensibly offering support for breastfeeding, this raised questions such as:

"If you’re breastfeeding, do you sometimes wonder if your baby is getting enough milk?"

"Feeling sore? .... If the pain continues or your nipples start to crack or bleed…."

It finished (left), "Thinking of bottle feeding?" and advertised SMA infant formula with misleading claims suggesting its ingredients are "closer to breastmilk". Full analysis on the Baby Feeding Law Group website - click here.

Baby Milk Action has also registered complaints about Wyeth's national advertising campaign that suggests its SMA formula is the best on the market. A ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority is expected shortly - click here.

Mike Brady said:

"Mothers have a right to independent information, which is available through the health care system and mother support groups. That is true for all mothers, whether they intend to use formula or to breastfed. We respect a mothers right to make her own decision. Baby milk companies should respect the marketing rules, stop promotion and make formula cheaper, instead of making unsubstantiated claims to drive up prices. If formula were cheaper more mothers who use it may then feel able to follow the Department of Health advice to discard unused formula after a feed."

As part of its aim to protect babies fed on formula, Baby Milk Action also works at European Union level and at the Codex Alimentarious Commission to improve the quality and safety standards for baby foods. As a result, industry analysts Euromonitor have commented: "In Western Europe, most parents are unaware that, as a result of stringent EU regulations on permitted levels of pesticide residues in baby food, there is very little difference between regular and organic baby food."

Note: Baby Milk Action's partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) in Italy successfully campaigned against a cartel of formula companies keeping prices artificially high there. The companies involved were taken to court by the competition authorities and fined over Euros 9 million. 

For further information contact Mike Brady on 07986 736179.


  1. The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly are minimum requirements for all countries. Article 11.3 of the Code requires companies to ensure their activities comply with the provisions independently of other measures.
  2. The four countries of the UK have introduced the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations and associated Guidance Notes which "shows how the regulations should be interpreted." 

MEPs warn of sweet baby milks and call for stricter marketing rules

Press release 15 June 2012

The vote on the European Parliament's Report on the Commission proposal for a Regulation on Food for infants & young children and for special medical purposes took place on 14 June in Strasbourg

European Parliamentarians adopted the report after amending it. It calls for significant strengthening of the rules governing the manufacture, marketing and safety of baby foods. The European Commission and Council of Minister will now have to take this report into account when they introduce the new regulation they are preparing to simplify and rationalise the existing EU rules. 

The regulations when passed should toughen up labelling controls and ban baby pictures and idealising images on follow-on formulas for babies over 6 months and should marginally increase protection to the right of pregnant women and parents to accurate information on infant feeding  The amended report also calls for independent research, the precautionary principle, transparency, democratic oversight and an EFSA evaluation of the high sugar and expensive new milks targetting older babies. 

Patti Rundall, Policy Director of Baby Milk Action, who was present in Strasbourg, said:

"The EU is still a  long way from meeting its obligations under World Health Assembly Resolutions and human rights instruments.  So of course we welcome the new safeguards outlined in the MEP report. But to put this in context, the idealising text and images that MEPs want removed from follow-on formula labels should have disappeared 30 years ago when the World Health Assembly first took action on this scandal  and all EU countries helped adopt the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.  But while labels are important, they are just one part of the problem. It is essential that the advertising and targeting of pregnant women and parents is curbed. We hope the Commission and Member states will take on board the clear concerns expressed by so many MEPs today."

With the EU baby food promotion varies dramatically with hardly any in some countries, while in others there is advertising on TV, in print media, on billboards and buses, and through company 'mother and baby clubs'.

Some EU countries have already banned such advertising and promotion in their interpretation of existing rules, but others, such as the UK, have faced huge opposition from companies when trying to do so. When the British Government last revised legislation, it indicated it was fearful of being taken to the European Court if it followed the example of other countries, such as Luxembourg.

Mike Brady, coordinator of a monitoring project in the UK on behalf of the Baby Feeding Law Group (a coalition of health professional and mother support groups), commented

"Let’s not forget that the existing ban on such text and images on infant formula labels is routinely flouted by companies in many Member States, with images such as shields, polar bears and unauthorised health claims appearing. Any demand by the companies for a delay to comply with these new regulations must be resisted as by rights they should be changing their labels in any case."

Two important amendments proposed by the Socialists and Greens, calling for EU legislation to specifically state that Member States are free to go further and ban the advertising of  follow formula and baby foods,  provoked the most debate with much support from the majority of speakers. While gaining strong backing, they were not passed. Commissioner Dalli, expressed willingness to look at at extension of advertising prohibitions to follow-on milks proposed by the Socialists,  but not to the Green amendment covering advertising of baby foods, which he said would affect the internal market too much.  

During the debate, MEPs argued that follow-on milks marketing  - which WHO,  UNICEF  and the UK Food Standards Agency consider unnecessary - is misleading.  Glenis Willmott (S&D UK) said that companies are deliberately exploiting the rules to confuse parents and that the loopholes needed to be closed to ensure that parents make decisions on sound objective information not on company marketing strategies.

Esther de Lange (Netherlands PPE) responded asking  "how stupid do you think european women are?"  saying  that infant formulas carry a GIGANTIC No 1 on the label and  a GIGANTIC  NO 2 on the  Follow on formulas.  Asa Westlund (Sweden S&D)  stepped in to say that although she breastfed her children, she also used formula and herself bought the wrong product because the packaging was so similar. (In the UK, companies do not use No. 2 to signify follow-on formula, but for infant formula for so-called hungrier babies, with No. 3 appearing on the formula for use from 6 months, demonstrating the inconsistency and cross-promotional aspects of the labelling strategy.)

Interestingly, when initially speaking for the European People's Party,   Esther de Lange admitted that the marketing of milks for older babies is confusing saying:   " There are new foods coming on to  the market, follow-on milks for infants aged one to three years. Consumers in Europe are  confused. Is this an essential part of an infants diet and therefore has to be covered by essential legislation or is it just long life milk enriched  with vitamins?   Or is it even bad for children because it has this very sweet vanilla taste and will mean that  children will continue to want that sweetness  throughout their lives.  We need to look into this and look to EFSA because all parents will be glad to have some clarity." 



Frederique Ries (ALDE Belgium), Rapporteur of the Report, said while she had some sympathy for the new amendments,  she did not want to upset the consensus that was achieved when her report was adopted in the Environment Committee in 29th April. 


For an example of the SMA Roadshow buses see: 

For further information contact Patti Rundall on 07786 523493 or Mike Brady on 07986 736179.






President Aquino of the Philippines called on to defend mothers and babies from the baby food industry

Press release 3 June 2012

President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines, who will shortly arrive in the UK, has been sent a message by Baby Milk Action and members of the public from around the world calling on him to stand firm in the face of lobbying from the baby food industry. The Infant and Pediatric Nutrition Association of the Philippines (IPNAP), consisting of Nestlé, Mead Johnson, Abbott and Fonterra, is pressing for amendments to Philippines law to be allowed to promote baby milks and target mothers with so-called 'educational' activities. Strong regulations came into force in 2007 after the industry brought an unsuccessful challenge against the government at the Supreme Court. According to the World Health Organisation 16,000 babies die every year in the Philippines due to inappropriate feeding.

Over 1,200 people from more than 40 countries have signed a petition of solidarity with the people of the Philippines.

For further details, download the attached letter and see: 


Contact: Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator, on 07986 736179.

Campaign for baby milk companies to stop promotion and make formula cheaper launched

Press release 30 May 2012

Baby Milk Action is supporting a petition campaign on calling on baby milk companies to stop self-serving marketing activities and make permanent (not promotional) reductions to the price of formula. The campaign is backed by various UK mother support groups. Baby food companies are targeting parents with so-called 'educational initiatives' and 'mother and baby clubs' - strategies that promote brand names and gather contact details and are ultimately funded by those who use formula.

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:

"Parents have a right to accurate information on infant and young child feeding under Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Baby food companies undermine this right with these self-serving marketing activities dressed up as education and support. A current trend is to claim to be promoting breastfeeding. However, the information is deceptive and subtly undermines breastfeeding, while advertising formula. Why should those who buy formula fund these marketing activities? The companies are violating internationally agreed marketing requirements and there are independent, accurate sources of information available. We say companies should stop the promotion, stop exploiting parents and make permanent (not promotional) reductions to the price of formula."

The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers said in a statement:

"The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers strongly support this petition.

"Offering fluffy toys, baby clubs and expensive information through phonelines and websites are patronising ploys. Formula companies are subverting international agreements designed to ensure parents receive information on infant feeding free of commercial pressure. All UK parents deserve better."

The petition is addressed to the Chief Executives of the baby milk companies and the Secretary of State for Health. It is available at:

The petition text reads:

Baby milk companies: no promotion, cheaper formula

1. We, the undersigned, believe that mothers and the wider public have the right to independent information on pregnancy and baby care. This is available through the health care system and mother support groups.

2. We call for baby milk companies to stop targeting pregnant women and parents with so-called 'educational initiatives' and 'mother and baby clubs'. These are strategies for promoting brand names and gathering contact details and are ultimately paid for by those who use formula.

3. We call on companies to make permanent (not promotional) reductions to the price of formula.

Note: The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly set out how companies can and cannot market formula. The Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations (2007) and their Guidance Notes are also in force in the four countries of the UK.


Protecting babies fed on formula

Questioned on Facebook about the call for permanent (not promotional) reductions to the price of formula and whether this would encourage mothers to use formula, Mike Brady responded:

"Formula is one of the products with the highest mark up on the supermarket shelves. In Italy it was proven that companies formed a cartel to keep prices artificially high. The cost of promotion further increases the price. If mothers use formula, for whatever reason, should they be made to pay the price for this? The cost of formula already impacts on other family members because of the expense. Should other family members suffer for the greed and unethical marketing practices of the baby food industry? Stopping the promotion - including promotional, not permanent, price cuts - will stop all mothers being misled by companies."

Breastmilk substitutes can be viewed as nutritional medicine. Artificially high pricing may encourage families to reuse bottles previously made-up, rather than discarding unused feed as advised in Department of Health guidance. It may also encourage introduction of cow's milk or water earlier than advised, or even over-dilution of formula. Fairer prices are part of the campaign to protect babies fed on formula.

Wyeth is planning to start the SMA Baby Know-How roadshow in the UK in June 2012 to promote its SMA formula. See:



Mike Brady on 07986 736179 or Patti Rundall (Policy Director) on 07786523493


Notes for editors

For examples of how companies target pregnant women and parents, see the 'monitoring reports' section of the Baby Feeding Law Group website at:

World Health Assembly Resolution tackles conflicts of interest

Press release 26 May 2012

Health campaigners including the International Baby Food Action Network are welcoming a new resolution (WHA 65.6) passed at the 65th World Health Assembly which calls on governments to strengthen controls on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes and to establish 'adequate mechanisms' to deal with conflicts of interest.

The Resolution will be especially important in relation to the new partnerships and "multi-stakeholder" arrangements that are springing up to tackle poor nutrition - many of which are pushing fortified processed baby foods and fuelling the multi-billion 'business of malnutrition.'  

Proposed by Canada, UK, Swaziland and Mexico, the Resolution ushered in WHO's Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, infant and young child nutrition, which emphasises the importance of breastfeeding and sound infant and young child nutrition in child survival.

An initial strong Resolution proposed by Swaziland and Uganda to protect infant health, prompted several days of behind the scenes wrangling, where Canada and the US called for the deletion of everything except a single line adopting the Implementation Plan. One particular sticking point was Paragraph 3.3. which requests the Director General of WHO  " to develop risk assessment, disclosure and management tools to safeguard against possible conflicts of interest in policy development and implementation of nutrition programmes consistent with WHO’s overall policy and practice."    The US wanted this tied down to the 'country level.'  However, after Norway stepped in, with support from Swaziland and other countries, saying that Conflicts of Interest need to be addressed at all levels, the reference to 'country Level'  was removed.  

During the Assembly debates several Member States expressed concerns about the emphasis on fortified processed foods and supplements, which may not be necessary and can also undermine support for and attention to breastfeeding and nutritious, affordable, culturally appropriate and sustainable local foods.  Indeed, instead of improving child health, many feared that the market-led approaches to "prevent" malnutrition championed by public-private-partnerships, could actually worsen the situation and increase further the double burden of malnutrition -  both under and over nutrition. In response to the particular concerns of Finland regarding the overemphasis on fortified supplements and other issues, the tables contained in the Action Plan were removed.   

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), which works with over 600 companies,  including Danone (the world's second largest baby food company and violator of the World Health Assembly baby food marketing requirements), PepsiCo, Mars and Kraft,  is one such body that has been lobbying to use health and nutrition claims to promote baby foods. Another initiative called, Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) was wholeheartedly supported in the speech by the International Special Dietary Industries (ISDI). SUN has been encouraging developing countries to partner with companies to address malnutrition. However, it has yet to formulate its own conflict of interest safeguards. 

In calling  for Conflict of Interest safeguards at all levels and mandating WHO "to provide clarification and guidance on the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children"  the Resolution could do much to clean up these initiatives and ensure that they work truly in the interests of child health.

Welcoming the Resolution,  Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO Nutrition, stressed the importance of having an agreement on a common vision on targets which can be measured, and where an accountability framework can be developed.

Maternal, infant and young child nutrition (WHA 65.6)

Resolution proposed by the delegations of Canada, Mexico,Swaziland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly,

PP1  Having considered the report on maternal, infant and young child nutrition: draft comprehensive implementation plan,1

1.    ENDORSES    the comprehensive implementation on maternal, infant and young child nutrition;

2.    URGES  Member states 2 to put into practice, as appropriate, the comprehensive implementation plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition, including:

  1. developing or, where necessary, strengthening nutrition policies so that they comprehensively address the double burden of malnutrition and include nutrition actions in overall country health and development policy, and establishing effective intersectoral governance mechanisms in order to expand the implementation of nutrition actions with particular emphasis on the framework of the global strategy on infant and young child feeding;
  2. developing or where necessary strengthening legislative, regulatory and/or other effective measures to control the marketing of breast-milk substitutes;
  3. establishing a dialogue with relevant national and international parties and forming alliances and partnerships to expand nutrition actions with the establishment of adequate mechanisms to safeguard against potential conflicts of interest;
  4. implementing a comprehensive approach to capacity building, including workforce development.

3.    REQUESTS the Director-General:

  1. to provide clarification and guidance on the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children as mentioned in resolution WHA63.23, taking into consideration ongoing work of the Codex Alimentarius;
  2. to support Member States to monitor and evaluate policies and programmes, including those of the global strategy for infant and young child feeding, with the latest evidence on nutrition;
  3. to develop risk assessment, disclosure and management tools to safeguard against possible conflicts of interest in policy development and implementation of nutrition programmes consistent with WHO’s overall policy and practice;
  4. to report to the 67th World Health Assembly through the Executive Board on progress in the implementation of the code of marketing breastmilk substitutes and related WHA resolutions.


  • IBFAN/Consumers International  Statement on WHO Reform read by Ina Verzivolli 

    IBFAN Comments on WHO Reform 

    IBFAN/Consumers International Statement  on Infant and Young Child Nutrition read by Dr Arun Gupta 


    by Judith Richter Social Medicine ( 147, Volume 6, Number 3, March 2012  (attached)  CLICK HERE reform Richter.pdf


  • Thank you, chairperson.

    As Consumers International, the global federation of consumer organisations worldwide and an IBFAN founding member, we welcome the opportunity to address the Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition.

    Poor infant and young child feeding practices are central to the problem of child malnutrition and survival and yet resources to protect, support and promote breastfeeding are far from commensurate with its importance and UNICEF warns that breastfeeding rates are stagnant or declining in many areas.

    We are concerned that the overemphasis on micronutrient interventions in the current plan, neglects the underlying causes of childhood malnutrition, many of which are in the 2002 Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding.

    We wish to raise the following points:

    Firstly the implementation plan should include indicators for the periodic evaluation of policies and programmes, as well as the identification of gaps and action plans to bridge them.

    Secondly we would like WHO to assist countries to end the inappropriate promotion of commercial complementary foods for infants and young children (WHA 63.23). In order to halt any further reappearance of promotional strategies that contravene the International Code on Marketing, the implementation plan should also include independent monitoring and reporting of such Code violations. This would be in line with Para 44 of the Global Strategy, which specifically obligates the infant feeding industry to provide safe products according to Codex Alimentarius and follow the Code and all its resolutions.

    Third, the proposal in para 31 to establish adequate mechanisms to safeguard against potential conflicts of interest should also be addressed by WHO and international partners, and not limited to member states. These mechanisms should be established before initiatives such as SUN are promoted to member states.

    We endorse the Resolution proposed by Swaziland and Uganda in Conference document 6.

    Finally we invite Member States to join us for the World Breastfeeding Conference in New Delhi on 6-9th December, in partnership with Government of India, which focuses on the Global Strategy and with the oblective of “Lets Protect Every Feeding Mother”, and campaign line, “Babies Need Mom-made Not Man-made”.

    Thank you Chair.



Photos of the Nestle demonstration: The Nestle monster is on the loose - trampling on the rights of mothers and babies

Press release 19 May 2012

Campaigners gathering for the annual boycott demonstration at Nestlé (UK) HQ in Croydon (19 May 11:00 – 12:00) faced the Nestlé monster - a costume dinosaur representing the company, which recently swallowed up Pfizer's infant nutrition business (marketing the SMA brand of formula in the UK), and which tramples on the rights of mothers and babies. Demonstrations also took place at other locations and there was a virtual demonstration on Facebook

Nestlé is the most boycotted company in the UK and one of the four most boycotted on the planet. Campaigners distributed "Fight the Nestlé monster" leaflets with ten facts executives do not want people to know. This leaflet includes an OCR code that can be read by a smartphone to access further details. See:

Left: constraining the Nestlé monster at the demonstration - click for high resolution image.

According to PR Week (25 April 2012), Nestlé revamped its Public Relations support prior to the demonstration by asking four companies to pitch for a £500,000 corporate affairs and social media contract. See: Nestlé revamps PR support as protest looms.


Nestle purchase of Pfizer's SMA and other baby milk brands bad news for babies

Press release 23 April 2012

Nestlé has won a fierce battle with Danone to acquire the Pfizer Nutrition business, including brands such as S-26, SMA and Promil brands of breastmilk substitutes. Nestlé is the one of the four most boycotted companies on the planet and the most boycotted in the UK - where it now enters the mass formula market - according to a past survey by GMI Poll. On 19 April Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, rejected a call at the company's shareholder meeting by Baby Milk Action to bring baby food marketing practices into line with World Health Assembly minimum standards, stating it was not for Baby Milk Action to tell him what to do.

Concerns raised by Baby Milk Action include Nestlé's targeting of health workers and parents. The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes prohibits companies from seeking direct or indirect contact with pregnant women and parents of infants and young children. In its press release announcing the Pfizer purchase, Nestlé CEO, Paul Bulcke, states: "The combined entities will enable us to deepen our engagement with consumers, offering them a wider choice of nutritious food to ensure their children make a healthy start to a healthy life."

Nestlé says of Pfizer Nutrition, "85% of its sales are in emerging markets". In poor conditions, breastfeeding saves lives. According to UNICEF"Improved breastfeeding practices and reduction of artificial feeding could save an estimated 1.5 million children a year."

Baby Milk Action's Campaigns and Networking Coordinator, Mike Brady, said:

"Last week Mr. Brabeck rejected our call at the Nestlé shareholder meeting for Nestlé to bring its baby food marketing policies and practices into line with World Health Assembly minimum standards. Nestlé's announcement today reveals one of the ways the company undermines breastfeeding by suggesting mothers need Nestlé products to 'ensure their children make a healthy start to a healthy life'. Children fed on formula are more likely to become sick than breastfed children and, in conditions of poverty more likely to die, which is why breastfeeding is the true healthy start. Nestlé aims to be the largest player in any market it enters, driving down standards, which means things are about to get a whole lot worse in some countries where Pfizer's brands trail the competition."

See Baby Milk Action's press release: 
Nestlé Chairman rejects proposals from boycott coordinators at company AGM at:

The purchase brings Nestlé into the UK market where it only has specialist products. The market leaders in the UK are Danone (Cow & Gate, Aptamil brands) and Pfizer (SMA brand). Current marketing violations by these companies are exposed on the Baby Feeding Law Group website at: 


Mike Brady on 07986 736179 or Patti Rundall (Policy Director) on 07786523493

Notes for editors

  1. Nestlé is singled out for boycott action as it is the worst of the baby food companies in terms of the type and number of violations. Danone has become increasingly aggressive, particularly in asia, at it tries to compete following its takeover of the NUMICO brands in 2007. Baby Milk Action and its partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) expose violations by all companies and are in communication with executives encouraging them to bring policies and practices into line with World Health Assembly minimum standards.
  2. Nestlé responded to the last global monitoring report from IBFAN, Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2010, by saying it would act on just four of the 130 violations it counted in its profile, or just 3%. Danone claimed to have already taken action accounting for 50% of the violations in its profile and subsequently agreed to remove its Immunofortis health claim, exposed in the report, from labels around the world.
  3. According to industry analysts Euromonitor, Nestlé controls about 29% of the global baby milk market and Danone 15%. 

Nestlé Chairman rejects proposals from boycott coordinators at company AGM

Press release 19 April 2012

Media coverage: Dairy Reporter 20 April 2012

At the company shareholder meeting in Lausanne on 19 April, Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, rejected proposals from Baby Milk Action that could ultimately bring to an end the long-running boycott of the company over the way it markets breastmilk substitutes. 

UN Global Compact punishes companies for failing to play its greenwash game, but not for violating its Principles

Press release 29 March 2012

Baby Milk Action has slammed the United Nations Global Compact Office announcement of its expulsion of 750 companies from the voluntary corporate social responsibility initiative as a transparent bid to gain credibility - and influence - in advance of the Rio+20 Forum in June 2012. While companies are expelled for failing to submit "Communications on Progress", Baby Milk Action suggests that other companies, such as Nestlé, get away with submitting misleading reports and systematically violating the Global Compact Principles. Nestlé is a Patron Sponsor of Global Compact events.

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