Take a look behind the scenes of Baby Milk Action by following the blog of Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator. You can download a widget or add it to your own site or blog that will display the news feeds from the blog and other sections of the site (click here).
Summaries of stories are given here. Click on the titles for the full posting.
This is my last campaign blog on this website as we are activating our new website at http://www.babymilkaction.org/
We hope you like our new website!
It was developed after you told us how you would like to see our old website improved.
In particular, it should display well on smartphones and tablets as well as laptops and desktop computers.
We asked you for your comments on the new website from the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). That feedback was positive, with a large majority agreeing we should follow a similar style.
That is what we have done.
Baby Milk Action is the UK member of IBFAN and we wanted to make this more obvious. You will see our new logo also mentions this.
New postings will be made to the website at http://www.babymilkaction.org/
Our old websites are still online, because we think it is important that the historic information continues to available.
Our previous website can be found at http://info.babymilkaction.org/
Our original website was on the 'www' domain name. All those pages can still be found by replacing the 'www' with 'archive'.
For example, if the address was:
The archive address will be:
We have updated a lot of the addresses within our new site already, but do let us know if you find dead links so we can fix them.
The online Virtual Shop continues to operate on the archive site for the time being, using the Romancart secure shopping cart and a variety of secure payment options. In the near future this will be moved to this new site – and again it is being designed to work well on smartphones and tablets.
We hope this new approach meets the requirements you told us about and would love to hear your opinions.
I attended the Nestlé shareholder meeting on 10 April 2014 with a colleague from the Geneva Infant Feeding Association (GIFA), a partner in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). We both raised concerns about Nestlé's marketing of breastmilk substitutes - and exposed how Nestlé endangers health and misleads shareholders. There were over 2,700 shareholders attending the meeting, representing 66% of the shares, with more watching the live webcast. We will continue to remind them that Nestlé needs to change its ways.
For other action to take, see the Nestlé-Free Zone.
A story has appeared on the nutraingredients website about US research that "benefits of breastmilk over infant formula are 'overstated'".
In the expectation that this will be seized on by sectors of the more mainstream media, here's a closer look.
Danone promotion of its Cow & Gate brand of baby milk in ASDA has been brought to Baby Milk Action's attention.
We are communicating with ASDA about the promotion and the misleading claims being used in it. Curiously, ASDA told us it was unaware of the promotion and we encouraged management to investigate and take action. The promotion has appeared on table displays in the ASDA café, on shelf-talkers next to products and in leaflets promoting a "Baby and Toddler Event" currently taking place in ASDA stores. People are encouraged to put questions to ASDA pharmacy staff. They are also encouraged to visit ASDA's "Baby and Toddler Club" website, though a disclaimer states no responsibility is taken for the accuracy of the information provided.
ASDA has told us: "We are looking into your concerns."
We have been receiving messages from supporters and the wider public about comments attributed to Dr Christian Jessen appearing in the current edition of Closer Magazine. Baby Milk Action tried to contact Dr Jessen via his agent and has confirmed that Dr Jessen's comments were taken out of context. A corrected statement - over which we still have some concerns - has been posted on the Closer website and we await news on what correction will be made in the next print edition. Further details below.
The following article was written by Franklin Fredrick (originally in German). Franklin campaigned successfully against Nestlé's destructive water bottling operation in the historic spa town of São Lourenço, Brazil, publicly challenging Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, about his company's failure to comply with Brazilian regulations. It finally took the threat of daily fines to persuade Nestlé to stop over-pumping, ten years after the campaign began. Similar campaigns continue in other communities from Pakistan to Canada.
Nestlé's Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, is boasting an interview he gave has been named "the top water story of 2013 in Guardian Sustainable Business".
Actually, Guardian Professional - "supported by funding from external companies and organisations" - listed its interview with Mr Brabeck as one of its "top five stories":
I posted a comment to the Guardian site, repeated here with useful links:
Please sign and share Baby Milk Action's petition against Nestlé and Danone involvement in the Department of Health Change4Life health education campaign in England and Wales.
The blog below provides supporting evidence.
The media is picking up on reports of a pilot study in Yorkshire and Derbyshire that will reward mothers with shopping vouchers if they breastfeed their children. According to The Guardian report: "Women will be offered vouchers worth £40 if they are breastfeeding when the baby is two days old and then further £40 vouchers at 10 days and at six weeks. The last two vouchers are spaced further apart – at three months and at six months."
Nestlé held its Creating Shared Value Global Forum in Colombia on Monday 28 October 2013, opened by the President of Colombia and Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé.
As luck would have it, International Nestlé-Free Week started the same day, 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.
Which meant that Nestlé's twitter feed from the Global Forum became a channel for exposing its marketing malpractice.
We have been contacted by many people about the lead headline on the cover of the current edition of Take a Break magazine: "Poisoned by Mum's milk: Breastfeeding KILLED by baby".
The headline is sensationalist - and misleading. The child had a rare genetic condition called Galactosaemia, which is an inability to break down lactose fully, making breastfeeding OR formula feeding dangerous.
Galactosaemia affects an estimated 1 in 45,000 babies in the UK every year - a fact mentioned in the article. In this particular case the child was both breastfed and fed on formula at night, but it is breastfeeding singled out by the editor as killing the child.
The tie-up between Google and Nestlé through the new Android KitKat smartphone operating system is prompting a reaction in the media and amongst campaigners. This reminder of Nestlé malpractice comes in the lead up to International Nestlé-Free Week, taking place from 28 October - 3 November 2013 (in some countries this covers Halloween).
A cartoon by Nitrozac and Snaggy is receiving a lot of attention. Click here or on the thumbnail left to view.
The business press sees trouble for Google, with an article in Forbes sugesting: Google Might Have Walked Into A Nestle Boycott Problem With Android KitKat
And the industry press asking: Android KitKat: Is Nestle tie-in a PR disaster for Google?
Google's own first-page of search results on Android KitKat includes a BBC report citing concerns over Nestlé baby milk marketing and pet food recalls.
Invitation to protest at the International Congress of Nutrition, Grenada, Spain, 15 - 20 September 2013.
Baby Milk Action's work on stopping corporations influencing health policies received a big boost in June this year when the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Margaret Chan, also warned: "Efforts to prevent noncommunicable diseases go against the business interests of powerful economic operators. In my view, this is one of the biggest challenges facing health promotion." She said: "In the view of WHO, the formulation of health policies must be protected from distortion by commercial or vested interests."
Not everyone has got the message - and we need your help. Fast forward to September and who are the headline sponsors of the International Congress of Nutrition?
Industry analysis: Android KitKat: Is Nestle tie-in a PR disaster for Google?
Did Google try googling for information about Nestlé KitKat and controversy before deciding to brand its new smartphone operating system as Android KitKat?
Presumably not as the first page of results turns up Baby Milk Action's page about KitKat being on the boycott list because of Nestlé pushing of baby milk (at least at the time of writing - we will be watching to see what happens to search listings following the Nestlé tie-in). Click on the screenshot left for a large version. Click here for information on the boycott.
Update: Lara and Sian completed the half marathon and are pictured below with their medals.
Baby Milk Action is delighted that Lara Cowpe and Sian Evans will be running in the Cardiff Half Marathon on 6 October 2013 in support of Baby Milk Action - and mothers and babies everywhere who benefit from our work holding the baby food industry to account.
Baby Milk Action has been highlighting for many years that follow-on milks and so-called growing-up milks are unnecessary products. The World Health Organisation issued a new report in July 2013 restating this point. First Steps Nutrition Trust has analysed the composition of fortified milks for toddlers and warned that "the voluntary fortification of foods and drinks needs to be questioned as there is increasing evidence that giving additional nutrients to those who do not need them may have adverse consequences".
Now a new report from the consumer magazine Which? has quantified the extent to which parents are being ripped off. Citing the example of Nestlé's SMA milks, Which? says parents could save £531 by using cow's milk instead of SMA-branded toddler milk, with nutrients such as iron coming from other foods that should be introduced from the age of 6 months in any case.
Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, has not yet given birth and people are telling her how to care for her child. The Guardian reported yesterday that a TV presenter had "called upon the duchess to become an advocate for breastfeeding." It is enough to have advice coming from all sides from family and friends, without trying to satisfy the demands of a nation, particularly with regard to one of the most immediate, fundamental and intimate aspects of nurturing the precious new-born gift when it arrives.
I don't think it is our business how Kate or any mother feeds her child - but there is plenty we can be doing to ensure that mothers have the support they require and deserve. In fact, it would be great if the energy and media attention expended on offering unwanted advice to Kate was applied where it is really needed: protecting the right to accurate, independent information for mothers, stopping misleading promotion of formulas (such as the "What's the best milk after Kate's?" formula advertising campaign), ensuring mothers who do use formula have information on how to reconstitute it properly and allowing mothers to breastfeed, instead of consigning them to toilets to do so.
Nestlé has entered the UK formula market and aggressive marketing practices - and underhand tactics - familiar to those monitoring its practices around the world are now being seen here. Nestlé booked the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) for an event targeting health workers on 9 July 2013 under a different name, Baby Milk Action was told, otherwise the RCP would not have accepted the booking. Baby Milk Action handed out leaflets on conflicts of interest to those arriving for the event on obesity in pregnancy and infancy. The next event in the series, scheduled for 11 July in Birmingham, is today shown as 'cancelled' on Nestlé's site promoting the events.
Danone is stepping up its targeting of health workers and the public, in violation of international baby milk marketing standards. In the UK Danone's formula brands are Aptamil and Cow & Gate. Baby Milk Action is organising protests where possible to raise awareness of the conflicts of interest involved in having a formula manufacturer and distributor as a sponsor and prompt a debate.
Baby Milk Action has been contacted repeatedly about two events being sponsored by Danone in the UK in coming days: Tommy's baby race on 30 June, promoting the Cow & Gate formula brand, and a Royal College of Midwives training event on 11 July.
Baby Milk Action is highlighting how these strategies violate marketing requirements and is calling for an open debate on sponsorship and conflicts of interest.
These events follow Nestlé's entry into the UK market, which has seen more aggressive marketing practices, driving down standards for the industry as a whole. At present Nestlé is targeting health workers around the country, trying to entice them to events at hotels. Baby Milk Action is organising protests outside these events - click here to find an event near you.
The Guardian is reporting that breastfeeding rates are falling in the UK. See:
I have posted the following comment (which can be used by the media as a quote):
It's not a free lunch - it's a Nestlé marketing strategy
Nestlé is actively targeting health workers in the UK having completed its takeover of Pfizer Nutrition/Wyeth and the SMA brand of formula in December 2012.
On 24 May 2013 it held an event in Histon, near Cambridge, for midwives and Doulas on water births - though the Nestlé Nutrition representative was also on hand and a session on SMA products was scheduled.
Such events violate World Health Assembly Resolutions on conflicts of interest and so Baby Milk Action was present at the entrance to the Holiday Inn where the event was being staged to inform participants of this fact.
The attached leaflet was provided to anyone willing to take it.
Baby Milk Action is preparing a kit of materials to enable others to do the same wherever Nestlé, its leading competitor, Danone, or other baby food companies target health workers with sponsorship.
As soon as news of the demonstration was posted to social media, experts were offering to provide training without baby food company involvement - free of charge, if necessary.
Following Nestlé's entry into the UK and Irish formula markets in December 2012, when it finalised its takeover of Pfizer Nutrition/Wyeth and the SMA brand, we are starting to see more aggressive baby milk marketing practices, both from Nestlé and its main competitor, Danone.
Danone is second to Nestlé in the global market and both are major sources of violations of the marketing requirements adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA), particularly in Asia. Marketing standards were never very high in the UK, but they are on the slide as this competition reaches our shores. Successive governments have failed to implement the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant WHA Resolutions in legislation. Therefore, it falls to everyone who cares about infant health and the right of parents, carers and health workers to receive accurate, independent information to join us in saying these minimum requirements should be respected.
The UK Association of Milk Banks (UKAMB) - one of our partners in the Baby Feeding Law Group - is promoting this day in the UK.
Find out more about what is happening on the UK AMB site: http://www.ukamb.org/
For details of the event at Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea Hospital Milk Bank and how to give your support see:
Please sign this petition addressed to the European Union, calling it to accept that access to water is a human right. See: http://www.right2water.eu/
Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, has rejected this view in an interview. Under his principles, water is a foodstuff to be sold at a price. He claims that by placing a value on water it will be treated with more respect. People who are poor and have difficulty accessing water should be given help, he says. Of course, Nestlé aims to make a buck from this process and is actively and agressively appropriating community water supplies, often in the face of opposition and legal challenges from those communities. It tries to divert criticism of these tactics with its CSV strategy, that is its Creative Storystelling Venture, or what it prefers to call Creating Shared Value.
A new monitoring report commissioned by UNICEF Lao has just become available and looks at marketing from November 2011 to January 2012. The monitoring found sales representatives, principally from Nestlé and Danone, targeting health workers, shop keepers and parents.
[Unofficial translation - click here for original article in French]
Le Courrier, 26 January 2013, Saturday
[On the top of the front page]
INFILTRATION OF ATTAC
Nestlé and Securitas lose against ATTAC
A spy hired by Securitas had joined the working group drafting the book Attac contre l’Empire Nestlé [Attac against the Nestlé Empire].
The Civil Tribunal of Lausanne has found Nestlé and Securitas guilty of having spied on ATTAC in the Nestlégate case. In 2003, an agent, acting for the Vevey-based firm, had infiltrated the anti-globalization group.
The World Breastfeeding Conference (6 - 9 December 2012) came to an end in Delhi with participants from 86 nations approving a declaration that:
"calls upon all concerned to adopt a human right based approach to the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding at international, national, and community levels."
This is a very powerful concept, backed by international law, which campaigners can use in calling on policy makers to act. We can use it to challenge governments that have failed to provide maternity protection or to regulate the marketing of breastmilk substitutes or that invest in the baby milk industry to boost economic growth while failing to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
But what does it mean to say breastfeeding is a human right? And what about babies who are not breastfed and mothers who do not breastfeed? Here's the way I understand it.
Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, was using his familiar tactic of diversionary tactics in India last month and will be doing so again tomorrow (4 December 2012) at the European Parliament.
Baby Milk Action has been concerned about the impact of FTSE's decision in 2010 to weaken the breastmilk substitutes criteria of its FTSE4Good ethical investment listing, which led to Nestlé being included without having to bring its marketing practices into line with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly.
The Nestlé Chairman dismissed the Nestlé boycott and concerns about the company's baby milk marketing activities in India by referring to FTSE4Good. He told NDTV:
"There are issues that have been in the history of our company, which we can discuss. We feel that we know today we are complying 100% with the WHO Code. We have been recognised. We wouldn't be part of FTSE4Good if we hand't been recognised. We are being investigated independently from us by those institutions and we get the certificate of good behaviour, which I think corresponds to the way we are behaving."
This is misleading on many levels.
Baby Milk Action has been asked to support a campaign in Ireland against baby food companies sponsoring awards to health workers. The event's main sponsor is Pfizer/Wyeth, which is in the process of being taken over by Nestlé, and it uses the awards to promote its SMA brand of formula by calling them the SMA Know-How Maternity and Infant Awards. Danone, manufacturer of Aptamil and Cow & Gate brands, is also trying to get in on the advertising opportunity by using its formula brands for some of the awards.
Earlier this year (June 2012), members of the public protested to shopping centres in the UK that were going to host Pfizer/Wyeth's SMA Baby Know How roadshow and this was cancelled - see press release.
In September 2012, Pfizer/Wyeth was found to have misled parents in an SMA advertising campaign in a ruling by the UK Advertising Standards Authority - see press release.
As Reuters reported on 19 October 2012, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has linked with various junk food companies, including Nestlé.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has today released a statement distancing itself from the decision to accept money from the food and beverage industry, a decision it describes as "unfortunate".
A representative of the Hipp baby food company was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 You and Yours programme on 5 November 2012, together with Dr. Helen Crawley of the First Steps Nutrition Trust (click here to listen again).
The discussion was about the refusal of Hipp to provide correct guidance on how to reconstitute its powdered infant formula. The facts, as Dr. Crawley explained, are clear. The Department of Health confirmed its guidance had not changed, despite Hipp claiming in the programme that it had been given permission to flout the guidance.
During International Nestle-Free Week 2012 (29 October - 4 November) people have been sending messages to Nestle about its systematic violations of baby milk marketing rules and signing a petition of solidarity with the people of the Philippines. A message of thanks has just been received from campaigners in the Philippines (see below).
Nestle-Free Week is a time for 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.
Above: Gloria joined the successful campaign with her son Miguel in 2007. Mothers and babies need your help again. Please sign the petition of solidarity. This is helping bring attention to this issue - see, for example, this report in the Philippines on 23 October 2012.
UNICEF has published a report today called: "Preventing Disease and Saving Resources: the potential contribution of increasing breastfeeding rates in the UK".
UNICEF'S press release states: "The report findings show that for just five illnesses, moderate increases in breastfeeding would translate into cost savings for the NHS of £40 million and tens of thousands of fewer hospital admissions and GP consultations."
The September 2012 issue of Breastfeeding Briefs from the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) is on the theme of "Sleeping with the baby". It is guest edited by Dr Helen Ball who has researched and written extensively on this theme.
The British Journal of Midwifery has published a letter from Baby Milk Action after a member of its editorial board defended accepting infant formula advertising, which has been criticised by readers. Professor Lewis suggested that concerns about such advertising are due to "enmity and distrust" and suggested the priority should be on "resolving differences".
My letter is reproduced below.
The following is adapted from a comment I posted to the article: Dr Miriam Stoppard’s breastfeeding article is factually inaccurate and irresponsible, which appeared on The Independent blog, 21 August 2012.
Dr. Miriam Stoppard questioned the recommendation in the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding regarding exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. Dr. Miriam Stoppard is known to us from her being called in by Nestlé in 2008 to help push its anti-boycott strategy - see campaign blog.
Wyeth is embarking on yet another national advertising campaign for its SMA formula.
This must be costing millions of pounds - a bill ultimately paid by those who buy formula.
The subvert below made me think about how much mark up there is on formula.
A new folder has been launched by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action for World Breastfeeding Week 1 - 7 August 2012.
It has the theme:
"Understanding the past, planning for the future - celebrating 10 years of WHO/UNICEF's Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding."
UK monitoring assistant
Baby Milk Action welcomes the reports it receives from members of the public and health workers about baby food marketing practices that may break the marketing rules. The best way to make these reports to us is via the Baby Feeding Law Group website: http://www.babyfeedinglawgroup.org.uk/
We are looking for an intern in the UK to help us process these reports and conduct some other monitoring activities over the next three months. This is a unpaid voluntary post. Details below.
Internship position - mainly via internet
One or two days per week for three months
Closing date: Monday 23 July 2012, 6 pm.
Wyeth manufactures the SMA range of formulas. It was planning a series of SMA Baby Know-How events in the UK, to start on 14 June 2012. These break marketing rules.
None of the events went ahead as shopping centres pulled out and Wyeth cancelled the whole roadshow on 20 June - click here for Baby Milk Action's press release.
However, Wyeth says the roadshow is only postponed, so the campaign continues.
Click to join the campaign (Opens in a new window. Remember to share this page on Facebook if you use it).
Left: Gloria and Miguel at a protest to defend new baby milk marketing regulations in the Philippines in 2007. After Miguel became sick, Gloria realised she had been misled by baby milk promotion and decided to act to stop companies misleading other mothers. The regulations were successfully defended then, but they are under attack again in 2013.
The attack is led by Nestlé, together with Mead Johnson, Abbott and Fonterra. These companies put their own profits before infant health. Through the Department of Trade and Industry they are threatening members of congress by saying that the Philippines will lose US$400 million in investment if their draft law is not passed to remove the protection given by the existing Milk Code.
Please sign the petition on the AVAAZ site calling for legislators in the Philippines to protect mothers and babies from the baby food industry - click here.
According to the Philippines Department of Health 8,400 babies would be saved every year by optimal infant feeding practices. The regulations that came into effect in 2007 regulate the marketing of milks for babies and young children. They require clear warnings on labels about the protective effects of breastfeeding as specified by the Department of Health.
The Department of Health, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF have condemned a new draft law being pushed by the industry in the Congress, saying in a joint statement: "The draft House Bill... aims to support multinational companies while damaging the Filipino society: families, the mothers and children."
Further details below. We will keep updating this page as the situation develops and more information becomes available.
Click here to download a pdf of the monster leaflet, with the logo (left) and ten facts Nestlé executives don't want people to know.
Print it double sided and cut in half to make two leaflets.
Further information on the ten points listed on the leaflet is given below.
This information is also available as an isite for reading on a smartphone. There is an QR code on the leaflet that can be scanned to access the isite.
Use our MyMeter iPhone app to raise the boycott when you see someone using a Nestlé product.
Mr. Chairman, Directors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nestlé has quietly weakened its Policy and Instructions for Implementation of the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.
Baby Milk Action met with FTSE on 20 February 2012 with Dr. Arun Gupta of the Breastfeeding Protection Network of India.
Dr. Gupta raised concerns about illegal activities in India by Nestlé, the largest of the baby food companies. These include targeting of health workers with sponsorship and conferences.
I was going to include this expression in a press release sent out yesterday, but no-one in the office understood what it meant.
If you have to explain a joke then it isn't very funny. But here goes.
Nestlé is in court in Switzerland on 24th and 25th January 2012 for running spies in the Swiss campaign group, ATTAC.
The latest edition of SCN News contains an article written by myself and Patti Rundall, our Policy Director, with this title. See page 51 of http://www.unscn.org/files/Publications/SCN_News/SCNNEWS39_10.01_high_def.pdf
We have received shocking news from the United Reformed Church (URC) Secretary for Church and Society.
I was pleased to provide information to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) for a briefing it produced on Campaigning and the private sector - click here.
This includes profiles of the campaigning strategies of a range of organisations, including Amnesty International, Greenpeace and Baby Milk Action.
Although it includes in the title the question Persuasion or pressure? these are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, with some corporations it takes pressure to persuade them to act.
Baby Milk Action recently formed the Conflict of Interest (COI) Coalition, bringing together - so far - over 140 international networks and civil society organisations calling for the United Nations to avoid conflicts of interest as it sets policies on obesity, diabetes and other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
The Coalition represents thousands of non-profit public health advocacy groups around the world.
Over 1,000 people have sent emails to the Secretary of State for Health, Mr. Andrew Lansley, asking the Government to reconsider its decision to scrap its Infant Feeding Coordinator posts and its support for National Breastfeeding Awareness Week. The response from the Department of Health is given below.
Updated: 7 April 2014
Click here to download this briefing paper as a pdf file. The online version links to references.
For IBFAN's briefing on FTSE4Good - click here.
Nestlé is listed in the FTSE4Good ethical investment Index. Nestlé’s Chairman tells people this demonstrates it complies with baby food marketing requirements. This is not the case. FTSE has asked Nestlé more than once to stop misrepresenting what inclusion signifies. Here is the background.
Baby Milk Action and its partners have repeatedly raised concerns when mothers have been separated from their babies in immigration or detention centres or denied access to feed them. This action has led to questions being raised in Parliament and helped bring about changes to government procedures (press release from 2007 case).
We have been asked to support mothers' rights in a similar case in Spain, that of Habiba and her daughter.
(Campaign image by Louma Sader Bujana / AmorMaternal.com).
An article published at BioMed Central entitled What could infant and young child nutrition learn from sweatshops? concludes: "Lessons from the sweatshops debate could serve as a model to promote cooperation and trust between public and private groups, such that they learn to work together towards their common goal of improving infant and young child nutrition."
The article misses the point that campaigners are in ongoing communication with company executives. The failure of executives to abide by marketing requirements and the way they try to excuse practices and discredit critics demonstrates their focus is not on a 'common goal of improving infant and young child nutrition', but on maximising profits. They can comply with marketing requirements when forced to do so - as in Brazil and India, for example (breastfeeding rates have recovered in the former and the formula market is failing to grow in the latter) - but elsewhere violations are commonplace and it takes public pressure to stop them. There are offers on the table for meeting when companies indicate they are serious about complying with the marketing requirements. Until they do so, methods that have helped to protect the vulnerable in many countries will continue to be pursued.
I have posted the following response as a comment to the article.
We are very grateful to Sally Etheridge for offering to raise funds for Baby Milk Action. She is taking place in 150 km bike ride on 25 June - during UK National Breastfeeding Awareness Week - and is seeking sponsors.
It has been a busy month for Nestlé as it tries to remake the world in its own image. It culminated in Nestlé announcing "The first comprehensive nutrition system for babies", a machine that squirts out milk into feeding bottles for new borns (click here for our press release and quote). How on earth has the human race survived without there being a way to provide nutrition to its young? In Nestlé's world, the past is prelude and the fact that babies were once nurtured by milk produced by their mothers' bodies is to be consigned to our primitive past it seems. Nestlé, Good Grief!.
Nestlé, Good Grief!
This Nestlé, Good Grief! jingle by Nick Rundall can be used as a ringtone or text/email alert on your mobile phone - a fun way to raise the Nestlé boycott! It is also played by the widget you can add to your website or blog.
Baby Milk Action will be joining partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) in Geneva on 12 May to present the latest global report on baby food company marketing practices.
The Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2010 monitoring report has examples of violations from 46 countries. There are profiles of 11 leading baby food companies, with market leaders Nestlé and Danone responsible for many of the violation examples included.
The most common questions asked by parents and carers who intend to use infant formula are probably, ‘Which formula is the best?’ and ‘How do I make a bottle?’ A new film for health workers developed by Baby Milk Action with Mark-It TV and the Baby Feeding Law Group, aims to equip health workers with the information they need to answer these questions and others. A DVD can be ordered from Baby Milk Action's online Virtual Shop with a public performance licence - click here.
Headlines claiming that scientists have produced 'breastmilk' from Genetically Modified (GM) cows should sound alarm bells for policy makers as they vote this week in the European Parliament on whether to improve measures for approving health claims on formula. Firstly, this story demonstrates once again that existing formulas lack many of the components found in breatmilk, three of which the researchers claim now to be able to produce from different GM cows. Given the existing misleading claims that formula companies put on labels, about how their formula boosts the immune system and supports brain and eye development for example, over a third of parents already believe formula is "very similar or the same" as breastmilk according to a survey by the UK Department of Health. Secondly, the GM cow's are not producing 'human breast milk' (hence the quotes in the reports), but are potentially a source of some of the missing components. Other components, some of which may still need to be discovered, and living substances, are not being produced by the cows and the milk will still require subsequent processing even if it was found to be beneficial and safe (aside from animal welfare and environmental considerations).
Thank you so much to everyone who has contacted their representatives in the European Parliament asking them to vote in favour of a Resolution to protect the rights of parents and carers to accurate information on infant formula. We know it is having an impact because those defending the rights of the baby food industry to put misleading claims onto formula are becoming more active and Mead Johnson has apparently hired an expensive Public Relations firm, to lobby politicians. We need the voices of the public to counter this offensive. Click here if you have not yet sent a message to your representatives in the European Parliament yet or to spread the word if you have. If you want to know the detail of what is taking place, read on.
Get ready for another round of 'Breast not best' headlines in the UK that will echo around the world as a book by Joan Wolf, a political scientist, is launched here. It has the title: "Is Breast Best?: Taking on the Breastfeeding Experts and the New High Stakes of Motherhood" and Joan Wolf is speaking on it at a conference on 21 March.
As Nestlé goes on a Public Relations (PR) offensive trying to improve its image by linking to the Fairtrade name during International Nestlé-Free Week, it is a great opportunity to tell people why to boycott Nestlé Fairtrade KitKat, its token Fairtrade chocolate bar, involving just 2.6% of its cocoa purchase. You can download our leaflet 'Why boycott Nestlé Fairtrade KitKat' by clicking here. You can also invite your friends to the event on Facebook event - click here - and adapt our suggested message (given below) for posting as a comment on articles that highlight KitKat without mentioning other concerns.
Well, today we were alerted by a member, Anne Adamson, to a promotion of Nescafe - right outside our office in Cambridge.
We went downstairs with a couple of placards and some leaflets.
As we prepared to take some pictures the group leader kept moving the promotion further and further down the street, threatening to sue us if we showed his face in our picture.
Nestlé opened nominations for its Creating Shared Value prize this February 2011. The company could improve its public image by accepting Baby Milk Action's four-point plan for saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott - but instead it is opening its cheque book to try to buy itself some good publicity by co-opting the good reputation of others. However, there is a risk that anyone supporting Nestlé's Creating Shared Value award will find they are dragged down by association with one of the world's four most boycotted companies. And as news breaks in the UK about companies infiltrating environmental groups, we should remember that Nestlé is being pursued through the courts in Switzerland after spying on campaigners there.
One of the activities in our Make a Mark in 2010 initiative was to develop an online training course on monitoring the baby food industry.
The technology has been put in place and the first module has now been made live on our website. Further modules in the 8-module course will be added over the coming months.
Mr. Paul Bulcke (left), CEO of Nestlé SA, and his predecessor and current Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, are seeking to set the agenda at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Swizerland this week. Nestlé is 'widely boycotted' in the words of its Global Public Affairs Manager, due to its aggressive marketing of baby foods in breach of international standards. Given the documentary evidence of systematic violations of the marketing requirements and the strategies employed by Mr. Bulcke and Mr Brabeck as they put their own profits before the lives and well-being of babies and their families, Baby Milk Action says it is ironic that Mr. Bulcke, co-chair of the meeting, believes he has any credibility in calling for "new global principles to fuel development". Mr. Bulcke, who was appointed CEO after achieving high growth in the baby food sector in Latin America, states in a press release on the Nestlé site: "When run in a principled way, with strong values and a long-term perspective, business can be an engine for development and prosperity."
Mr. Brabeck has for decades advocated that corporations be trusted to follow voluntary principles and be given greater power in policy setting than civil society organisations as the "engineers of wealth". At the last Nestlé shareholder AGM in April 2010 Mr. Brabeck warned against tying corporations up in a “regulatory straightjacket”, saying this was unnecessary as people should trust Nestlé's values. Mr. Brabeck's stance is inconsistent, however, because while opposing strong regulations protecting babies and their families in line with international marketing standards in favour of voluntary measures, he has argued that protection of company brands should be "entrenched in the law and strictly enforced by the authorities". Mr. Brabeck also argues publicly that corporations should be trusted as global citizens, but told business leaders in Boston in 2005, that corporations should not feel obligated to 'give back' to the community and should only support good causes if it will benefit shareholders.
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said, "Mr. Bulcke and Mr. Brabeck have demonstrated the only principle they seem to understand is money - that is why we call on people around the world to join the boycott until they agree to stop pushing baby foods in ways that undermine breastfeeding and endanger babies fed on formula. The boycott has forced some changes, but they still have a long way to go. Mr. Bulcke is trying to present himself as a principled business leader on the global stage as part of his strategy to divert attention from what Nestlé's does in reality."
Both Mr. Bulcke and Mr. Brabeck have rejected Baby Milk Action's four-point plan for saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott.
Q and A with Mike Brady
The Mumsnet parenting website invited their followers to post questions to be answered by Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, and the moderators selected the following as representative.
Browse the questions selected by Mumsnet below and click on the links to go straight to Mike Brady's full answer.
The Mumsnet parenting website invited their followers to post questions to be answered by Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, and the moderators selected the following as representative.
Edited versions of these answers have been posted on the Mumsnet site (there is a word limit on the answers) - full answers are given here with links to supporting information.
A senior member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) responsible for the UN Global Compact has moved to Nestlé as Vice President for Corporate Affairs. The Global Compact is a voluntary initiative aiming to persuade corporations to abide by a set of Principles on human rights and the environment. Baby Milk Action and other Nestlé Critics filed complaints with the UN Global Compact Office in 2009 under so-called Integrity Measures alleging egregious violations of the Global Compact Principles, but the Office refused to investigate these. Despite the complaint about Nestlé's aggressive marketing of baby food in violation of international standards and other on-going concerns, the Global Compact Office accepted Nestlé as a patron sponsor of its 10th anniversary summit in New York in July 2010 (see press release UN Global Compact - 10 years of helping cover up corporate malpractice). Now it has been reported that the WHO officer responsible for promoting industry alliances with the UN Global Compact moved to Nestlé in October 2010 to take up a position as Vice President. While this is a worrying indication of the close relationship between the UN Global Compact staff and industry, Baby Milk Action is calling on Nestlé newest Vice President, Janet Voûte, to use her position to try to stop her new colleagues violating the Global Compact principles.
It is International Nestlé-Free Week from 25 - 31 October 2010 (press release). A week for people who boycott Nestlé over its baby milk pushing to do more to spread the word and for those who don't boycott to give it a go. This year people are being asked to email Nestlé over its last baby milk marketing strategy: it is claiming its formula 'protects' babies despite the fact that babies who are fed breastmilk substitutes are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die.
It is International Nestlé-Free Week at the end of October. Our press release can be found at:
I saw a comment on one discussion board where someone had posted a link: "sorry .. but some people cant breast feed .. so making people feel guilty because they cant .. no thanks ..."
I posted the following comment:
Thanks to VictoriaSlinglady for this.
The UN Secretary General, Ban KI-moon, is today announcing a worldwide campaign to save the lives of 16 million mothers and children over the next five years and a fund of US$40 billion to help achieve this goal. See The Guardian.
This is wonderful news - and we should perhaps not be too surprised to find that Nestlé, a company with a long record of abusing women and child rights, is trying to muscle in on the initiative to try to distract attention from its on-going aggressive marketing of baby milks in breach of international standards and other much-criticised practices.
Far too many mothers and children die from preventable causes. While we welcome the new United Nations initiative, we should also remember that there are far cheaper, but politically more difficult, steps that can be taken to reduce unnecessary child deaths: implementing and enforcing existing measures adopted by the United Nations. Over 140,000 people have signed a rolling petition calling for policy makers to take action to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, with over 3,000 addressing a specific message to the Secretary General over the last three days. See the ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN.
In the area of infant feeding, the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is helping to save lives in many countries, but many more have yet to implement it and the subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly. These international minimum standards aim to protect breastfeeding and ensure breastmilk substitutes are used safely when necessary and companies are called on to abide by them independently of government action, but do not do so.
Worse still, the United Nations Global Compact, a voluntary initiative intended to improve the behaviour of transnational corporations, has been found to be complicit in working with companies such as Nestlé to allow violations of the Code and Resolutions to continue: it accepts Nestlé funding to promote the initiative and posts on its website Nestlé's PR materials claiming the company abides by the Code and Resolution, but refuses to investigate reports of egregious violations of the Global Compact Principles registered under the initiatives Integrity Measures. There are also concerns that corporations will be using the UN Secretary General's new initiative as a way to improve their images, while continuing to abuse human rights.
We are receiving many outraged reports from people who have seen that Danone is offering midwives grants of up to £1,000 from a fund of £20,000. This sponsorship is branded with the Danone formula name and logo, Aptamil (Danone is also behind the Nutricia, Milupa and Cow & Gate formula brands).
The money is being handled by the charity Tommy's. I would say Danone is using the charity to 'launder' the money in an attempt to make it more acceptable.
A MESSAGE FROM THE ONE MILLION CAMPAIGN
Globally 3.6 million Infants die before they reach their first birthday and millions are malnourished because of inadequate and inappropriate breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices.
Most effective interventions to save babies’ lives and prevent malnutrition is to enhance early and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and good complementary feeding thereafter along with continued breastfeeding. For this, women needed to be supported.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki- moon will launch the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health at a special event during the MDG Summit in New York on 22nd September.
Let's call upon the UN Secretary General to ensure support to women.
The First Ulverston Breastfeeding Festival (16 - 22 August) was a thoroughly enjoyable event and one that deserves to grow. The town of Ulverston, close to the coast on the south side of the Lake District, is a delightful setting. I spoke on Friday in the Parish Church Hall, after a showing of the UNICEF Philippines film, Formula for Disaster. Many thanks to Jo Dawson for the invitation and for the hard work she put in with help from friends and family to make the event a reality. I really hope it becomes part of the calendar and inspires others in the UK and elsewhere.
There are links to the film and some of the information included in my presentation below, along with other news from the festival. My weekend at the festival was an opportunity to encourage people to email Nestlé over its latest baby milk marketing strategy (it is claiming its formula 'protects' babies, despite the fact that babies fed on formula are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die). Before reading on, take a minute to email Nestlé by clicking here (will open in a new window).
The newly formed coalition Government in the UK has prioritised cutting public expenditure and the deficit and has also launched a campaign to scrap or amend unnecessary or ineffective legislation. The public are being invited to submit suggestions.
Baby Milk Action is suggesting the Government simplify the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations. Currently advertising and promotion of infant formula is prohibited, but follow-on formula can be advertised, a double standard with financial and health implications. In addition, the information on infant formula is regulated, but companies can make claims about health benefits on follow-on formula labels with impunity. Bringing follow-on formula within the same restrictions as infant formula will protect breastfeeding and babies fed on formula. You can support this suggestion by clicking on the 5th star under the heading 'Add a Rating' and leaving comments on the Government website - click here.
Nestlé sponsored the London Marathon in 2010 with its controversial Pure Life brand of bottled water. Only Nestlé water was available, creating a dilemma for runners who support the Nestlé boycott over its pushing of baby milk, who had to break their personal boycott or put their health at risk.
Nestlé is the most boycotted company in the UK. Baby Milk Action asked the Virgin London Marathon for its sponsorship policy and a public statement on Nestlé's sponsorship.
We have been told:
"Nestle will continue as one of the sponsors to the Virgin London Marathon next year (2011).
"The London Marathon’s sponsorship policy is confidential to the organisation of the event including the Race Director, CEO, Board of Directors and Trustees."
Nestlé is promoting its breastmilk substitutes with the claim they are, 'The new "Gold Standard" in infant nutrition' (June 2010). What does Paul the psychic octopus, who predicted the World Cup winners, think is the real gold standard?
Image by a supporter of Baby Milk Action's 'email Nestle' campaign: http://info.babymilkaction.org/emailnestle
Mothers and babies need you to keep up the pressure on Nestlé now more than ever - look at what it is really doing.
Briefing paper - updated 29 January 2013
Media coverage: Ekklesia 1 July 2010
We have just learned that the forthcoming Assembly of the United Reformed Church (4 July) presents an ideal opportunity to put pressure on Nestlé to stop its systematic violations of the World Health Assembly's marketing requirements for baby foods. If you will be attending the Assembly, please look at the up-to-date information in this site, particularly concerning Nestlé's current global baby milk marketing scam. Nestlé is claiming its baby milk 'protects' babies even though it knows babies fed on it are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. Contact me if you would like to discuss this further. Nestlé puts its profits before all else and the changes we have compelled it to make have come from exposure, and the public backing the boycott and telling Nestlé they are doing so.
Nestle is sponsoring the London Marathon with its controversial Pure Life brand of bottled water. The next London Marathon will take place on 17 April 2011. If you would like there to be alternative supplies, you can join the Facebook group: "We want Nestlé out of the London Marathon". See:
The Nestlé boycott works its magic again as sponsorship of the BlogHer conference by its Stouffer brand comes under scrutiny. The Conference is due to take place in New York in the United States (6 - 7 August). Ironically, this came to my attention by a posting on a blog by someone defending her decision to attend Nestlé's parenting-blogger event in California in October 2009, which led to a first-class public relations disaster on Twitter, the social networking site. Nestlé has an abysmal image in cyberspace and is trying to improve this. As debate rages over whether bloggers should attend the Conference and what they can do there to support the campaign if they do, some thoughts come to my mind, which I will share here. It is very welcome to see people taking a stand, but the fact that Nestlé is contributing to the unnecessary death and suffering of babies around the world is an uncomfortable fact to face if you are someone who loves a particular product or want to accept its largesse. Accordingly, facing the facts is generally avoided in the arguments for not taking a stand.
All postings regarding Nestlé's marketing of baby milk were censored at the company's Creating Shared Value Forum yesterday, so with the management refusing to engage with the public, we need to increase the number of messages going to Nestlé. Baby Milk Action is making this easier with new features on this website. You will find you can now easily share links to pages of interest with your friends. Try it out on our new film clip about Nestlé's strategy of promoting baby milk with the claim that it 'protects' babies, even though it knows babies fed on baby milk are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. The page includes a form for sending a message to Nestlé calling for it to stop this practice. See: http://info.babymilkaction.org/news/campaignblog260510
Nestle held a Forum in London today 27 May - broadcast on the internet - about its Creating Shared Value strategy. Nestle portrays itself as a model of ethical behaviour, driven by its values. Yet the claims it makes and reports it produces are very misleading. Baby Milk Action's questions were not posted to the discussion board - read them here.
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.
Greenpeace is reporting that Nestlé has agreed to all of its demands regarding its sourcing of palm oil from suppliers accused of destroying Indonesian rainforest to produce it. Nestlé had earlier resisted calls to change its policies and practices and received many thousands of messages and Greenpeace campaigners dropped in - literally - on its shareholder meeting in Switzerland last April. Now it is saying it will source palm oil from sustainable sources by 2015. This will require careful monitoring; when Nestlé was targeted over child slavery in its cocoa supply chain it promised in 2001 to ensure this had ended within 5 years, but has still not delivered. From our own success in holding Nestlé to account, we know that its Public Relations team will be swinging into action to portray this as 'Nestlé taking the lead' - ignoring the great efforts campaigners have had to go to and using its climb down to divert attention from other concerns about it awful management behaviour.
I've just sent out a press release with the news that the Liberal Democrats have pledged their support to our campaign to protect infant health. We have asked the parties vying for power in the UK General Election to pledge to work for the implementation of the World Health Assembly marketing requirements in the UK and support these minimum standards internationally. The Green Party and Scottish Green Party have also made this pledge. We wrote to all party leaders as part of our Make a Mark in 2010 activities.
Nestlé is the most boycotted company in the UK over the way it pushes baby milk and it is desperate to change the situation. It is reportedly paying celebrities US$10,000 per tweet to say nice things about it on Twitter and is hiring a PR firm to try to improve its image in cyberspace. Today it is sponsoring the London Marathon and is supplying branded Nestlé Pure Life water to runners around the course. We have produced leaflets for runners and others to hand out to use this as an opportunity to show they do not support Nestlé and have produced a press release including the following quote.
I've just posted a new page with a leaflet for the UK General Election campaign. See:
We have a boycott list with the main Nestlé brands in the UK. I was just adding a note that Nestlé is in the process of selling its Alcon contact lens solutions business to Novartis. This is due to complete in mid-2010. In the process I remembered I needed to update the link to Nestlé own brands page. We link to it from our boycott list, but Nestlé keeps changing the address of the page in small ways so the link dies (for example, its been changed from Brands.htm to BrandHome.htm). Thank you to everyone who contacted me about the dead link.
You can find our list with the link to Nestlé's latest page at
The game of 'find the Nestlé's brand page' is not the only one Nestlé likes to play. A new one surfaced when I visited the Annabel Karmel Facebook page today. Unsurprising as it was recruiting PR experts to try to improve its abysmal image in cyberspace. See:
There are two reasons why Nestlé is the most boycotted company in the UK and one of the four most boycotted companies on the planet (findings of an independent poll conducted by GMIPoll and reported in The Guardian http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/businessinsight/archives/2005/09/01/branded.html).
Because Nestlé is so bad and because you, campaign supporters, are so good.
The decision of children's food author Annabel Karmel, to withdraw from a link-up with Nestlé last month demonstrates this clearly.
A investigative television programme on Channel 4's Dispatches in the UK is reporting on how corporate lobbyists recruit politicians to gain access to Government Ministers and the Chairs of influential Parliamentary committees.
Thousands of copies of our new leaflet have been downloaded, exposing Nestlé's attempts to undermine the boycott over its baby milk marketing and improve its image using its token Fairtrade KitKat product - which involves just 1% of its cocoa purchase. Nestlé is also criticised for failing to deliver on a promise to end child slavery in its cocoa supply chain.
We need to update the leaflet now to include information from Greenpeace's campaign, exposing the source of plam oil in Nestlé products. Greenpeace states on its site today:
We have new evidence which shows that Nestlé - the makers of Kit Kat - are using palm oil produced in areas where the orang-utans' rainforests once grew. Even worse, the company doesn't seem to care.
Greenpeace are organising a protest at Nestlé (UK) HQ today and have released the youtube clip below.
We are developing an online course on monitoring the baby food industry.
You can find out more by watching a short film clip and trying a sample quiz on our website.
Please take a look and let me know what you think of the technology. If you are a member of Baby Milk Action, also register with our site because the first module will be free to members. Members will also receive a discount on the remaining modules. The planned price for non-members is £10 per module.
Mr Tom Levitt, Member of Parliament for Buxton, has announced he is standing down at the next election.
Nestlé bottles Buxton water in the town and has befriended its MP with free tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament and a free trip to South Africa.
After the trip, Mr. Levitt praised Nestlé and suggested it should no longer be criticised for issues he said were 30 years in the past. In the Buxton Advertiser today, he is again quoted defending his friends at Nestlé:
Our new-look website is gradually taking over from our present site. The present site will remain as an archive.
You can now find Update 42 on the new site at:
This is the first entry on the new-look site. For older postings, see the Blogger version at: