Nestle Sponsor Doctors Conferences - BREAKING THE INDIAN LAW

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Nestle Piggy Backs its own Institute to Sponsor Doctors Conferences and BREAKING THE INDIAN LAW: Governments need to Act!

Hiding behind their own, Nestle Nutrition Institute, Nestle, the manufacturer of the Infant Milk Substitutes and Infant Foods, hosts a conference for the doctors in Chennai tomorrow the 30th, and hosted one in Kolkutta yesterday the 28th April. This action breaks the Indian law, the Infant Milk Substitutes Feeding Bottles, and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 1992, and the Amended Act 2003.

The Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI), the agency that has been notified under section 21(1(c) of the IMS Act, received information just this morning about tomorrow’s event in Chennai the 30th April, and wrote to the Principal Secretary Health, Tamil Nadu as well as Secretary Health Government of India to take action. In fact, the BPNI has requested the health secretary of Tamil Nadu, not to inaugurate the said conference and avoid giving legitimacy to the organizers.


The scientific conference “ Emerging Trends in Pediatric Nutrition” to be held at Hotel Park in Chennai, hosted by the Nestle Nutrition Institute, a subsidiary of Nestle, the manufacturer of infant milk substitutes and infant foods.


For your information, the proposed conference sponsorship attracts section 9 of the above said Act.


Section 9 is as below

9.1. No person who produces, supplies, distributes or sells infant milk substitutes or feeding bottles or infant foods shall offer or give, directly or indirectly, any financial inducements or gifts to a health worker or to any member of his family for the purpose of promoting the use of such substitutes or bottles or foods.


9.2. No producer, supplier or distributor referred to in sub-section (1), shall offer or give any contribution or pecuniary benefit to a health worker or any association of health workers, including funding of seminar, meeting, conferences, educational course, contest, fellowship, research work or sponsorship.


According to Dr Gupta, a pediatrician, the central coordinator of the BPNI, “ In this case the company in question, Nestle, is hiding behind their own institute to sponsor this conference. They get high profile pediatricians as well as high officials involved; in fact this is an attempt to gain legitimacy, purely a PR exercise, while Nestle faces a criminal trial in Delhi since 1994 for a violation of this same Act, for which cognizance was taken in 1995”


Dr J.P. Dadhich who works as the national coordinator of BPNI said, “in the absence of any state action to prevent such events, the IMS Act is meaningless, governments should look at why the IMS Act was enacted by the Parliament.”


It is ironical that on one hand the government authorities supposed to regulate and check malpractices in infant feeding show a thunderous enthusiasm but fail to even inform its functionaries about their roles and conduct while dealing with this sensitive matter. The net result of all this translates into inadvertent endorsement of such unnecessary and even harmful products when these guardians of public health inaugurate, attend, chair and benefit from the carefully crafted media coverage.


BPNI is deeply concerned about the unethical practices of baby food and formula companies or their allies, to work in with a handful of allured individuals. Hiding behind company mooted institutions is now become a fashion among all such corporate houses making baby foods. BPNI believe that infant formulas and baby foods are only recipes for disaster for infants rather than anything else; there is no reason that corporate sector should be interfering with infant nutrition.





Dr Arun Gupta



Dr JP Dadhich




Notes for editors for more information about Nestle making similar efforts outside India


Nestle chapter of the most recent Breaking the Rules report.


In addition, Aamir Raza, a former Nestle employee in Pakistan, wrote a scathing whistleblower report on how Nestle executives routinely ignore the directions in their own Charter by doing things like giving gifts and samples to doctors.


There are many examples of other companies violating this aspect of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes too in the other sections of the Breaking the Rules reports.








Is Nestle Hiding Something?

The speaker called by Nestle for this meeting seems to be an official of Nestle Nutrition in US.  He is not an independent expert on nutrition as being disguised by Nestle.
The biography of the  foreign speaker, Dr. Jose Saavedra for the event, as published in the invitation letter for above mentioned events does not inform his association with Nestle Nutrition . Nestle, purposefully, has hide the fact that Dr. Jose was a consultant and research collaborator for Nestlé Nutrition for many years during his academic tenure. In 2000 he joined Nestlé Nutrition as Medical and Scientific Director and created the Medical, Scientific and Regulatory affairs Unit. In 2004 he became Vice President for medical, scientific and regulatory affairs for Nestlé Nutrition in North America.
Dr. Saavedra has done research on use of prebiotics in infants for which the research grant and formula for use during the study was provided by the Nestle USA. Later on, Nestle launched an infant formula with probiotics in American markets. On one of the website which reported the launch of the formula, Dr. Jose Saavedra, as medical and scientific director with Nestlé Nutrition, was quoted as “The inclusion of probiotics clearly goes a step further than providing basic nutrients for growth and development by adding a functional component which addresses an important objective of nutrition: supporting and modulating an infant's immune system”.

Dr. Jose Saavedra’s topic for the current round of “scientific conferences” in India is “Early nutrition and gut immunity – Keys to allergy prevention”. Is it an attempt by Nestle to propagate its’ Infant formula with Probiotics in India? Since, Indian constitution doesn’t allow any kind of promotion of infant formula including advertisements and promotion with health workers; is it a disguised effort by Nestle to circumvent the law of the land?
  JP Dadhich