Email Nestle over violations of the international marketing standards

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Updated 22 April 2014

Send an email to Nestle. Nestle promotes its baby milk with claim such as it 'protects' babies and is the 'natural start'. But babies fed on it are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die.

Nestle logoCampaigning works. After thousands of emails in our last campaign Nestlé dropped the claim that its formula is 'The new "Gold Standard" in infant nutrition'.

So please do send a message to Nestlé, and let us know if you receive a response. The logo left appears on Nestlé's infant formula in Thailand. Click on the image for the full label. Downloand our sheet on Nestlé's labels for further examples and information.

(Tip - you can return to this page to share it with your friends by clicking 'Email Nestlé' in the left menu).

Share this link with your friends on Facebook and by using the email feature on the left or foot of page. Remember to join Baby Milk Action's Facebook page.

Send a message to Nestlé 

Click here to use Nestlé's email form (please let us know if this link dies). 

You can also send a Tweet to Nestlé using its Creating Shared Value hashtag: @Nestlecsv. Nestlé uses this to tweet about how it benefits communities, so it is an opportunity to expose Nestlé's malpractice to a wide audience. 

We prepraed the following draft email message to Nestlé for people to adapt when Nestlé invited questions during its Creating Shared Value Global Forum in October 2013. Nestlé did not reply to any of the emails, however. We asked Nestlé for a response and it said: 'Please be advised that we have a policy of not responding to mass emails.' If Nestlé did not respond to your message, please contact them again using the form on its website.

Dear Nestlé,

Nestlé says there is no question about breast milk being the best start a baby can have in life and claims to abide by the World Health Assembly marketing requirements for breastmilk substitutes. Yet evidence shows Nestlé systematically violates these measures. For example, you promote your formula with claims such as it *protects* babies and provides a *natural start*.

As you know, babies fed on substitutes are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. Your prominent logos and health claims undermine the obligatory 'Breastfeeding is best for babies' message.

Nestlé executives have defended these practices, despite them being a clear violation of the World Health Assembly marketing standards.

Please contact me when your management has decided to drop these shameful promotional strategies. In the meantime, I will be redoubling my efforts to persuade more friends and colleagues to boycott your company. 


Nestle response as of 17 June 2010

Have you had a response from Nestlé? If so, we'd love to see it and hear what you think.

We've seen a slight change from the Nestlé response being sent out since 4 June. Nestlé is still not responding to the points that its 'protect' logos undermine the obligatory 'breastmilk is best for babies message', are prohibited by the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and are shameful, given that babies fed on the formula are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and , in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. 

Nestlé is now trying to suggest that the Code does not apply to it. Dr. Crozier-Willi's latest response states: "For your information, the World Health Assembly does not formulate marketing standards – rather it makes health policy recommendations to Member States." 

Yet, Article 11.3 of the International Code states companies should abide by these provisions independently of government measures. On 22 May 2010, the Health Ministers gathered at the Assembly adopted a further Resolution, which specifically: "“CALLS UPON infant food manufacturers and distributors to comply fully with their responsibilities under the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant World Health Assembly resolutions." 

As mentioned above, Dr. Crozier-Willi, Nestlé Global Public Affairs Manager, was leading Nestlé lobbying of Health Ministers at the Assembly as they discussed the problem of health claims like Nestlé's 'protect' logos. So she surely cannot pretend to be unaware of this latest Resolution, even if she ignores Article 11.3 from 1981.

Dr. Crozier-Willi also suggests "In all countries where the “Protect” logo is used, it is consistent with the local legislative and regulatory framework". This is simply untrue, as the example of the comments made to Nestlé by the Department of Health in South Africa, quoted above, show. 

Nestlé continues to demonstrate its contempt for the International Code and the world's health ministries as it continues to put its own profits before the lives of babies with this marketing strategy. More messages to Nestlé please!

Nestle response as of 4 June 2010

Dr. Gayle Crozier-Willi is saying nothing new in her response on this issue so far. These points have already been addressed above. Baby Milk Action comments in square brackets [** like this].

--- Nestle response


There is no question about breast-milk being the best start a baby can have in life. To emphasise this, the following statement, "Important notice: Breast-milk is best for babies. Before you decide to use an infant formula consult your doctor or clinic for advice", appears on all our infant formula products [**A requirement achieved by the boycott campaign - and Nestle had failed to translate this in some countries till Baby Milk Action made this an issue on national UK television, see note 1. Nestle has introduced its 'protect' logos since then to undermine the message. We have updated our suggested message to pre-empt this response]. However, for infants who, for whatever reason, cannot be breastfed, it is critically important that a safe, high-quality alternative be made available [**The Code aims to protect all babies, however they are fed].

Nestlé makes significant investments in R&D and technology to continuously deliver innovative products with scientifically proven nutritional benefits. We continue to make scientific and technical advances in the area of nutrition and we make sure that our infant formula products are “best in class” to meet as far as possible the nutritional requirements of non-breastfed babies [**See point 9 above].

The functional benefits that are encapsulated in the “Protect” logo are scientifically substantiated – the result of many years of intensive research on how best to improve the formula composition to stimulate the infant’s immune system. The logo helps distinguish this particular formula from other less advanced products but does not claim in any manner that infant formula is superior or equal to breast-milk [**See point 9 above].

Infant formula products are heavily regulated by governments to ensure that consumers have technically precise and accurate information. In countries where the “Protect” logo is used, it is consistent with the local legislative and regulatory framework. For instance, in Malawi, the infant formula was registered with the national health authorities prior to its launch and they communicated no concern about it to us [**Article 11.3 of the Code states companies should abide by its provisions independently of other measures. Governments meeting in May 2010 at the World Health Assembly adopted a further Resolution on their concern over health claims such as those used by Nestlé, stressing the need to "end inappropriate promotion of food for infants and young children and to ensure that nutrition and health claims shall not be permitted for foods for infants and young children, except where specifically provided for, in relevant Codex Alimentarius standards or national legislation". See press releases and also point 8 above].

We hope to have answered your concerns. Do not hesitate to contact us would you have further questions. [**If you are not satisfied, you could reply pointing out you want Nestlé to contact you when it has stopped the practice of claiming its formula 'protects', as required by Article 9.2 of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes]

Best regards,

Dr Gayle Crozier Willi

Issues Manager

Public Affairs

Nestlé SA

Avenue Nestlé 55

CH-1800 Vevey