Nestlé has issued an analysis of its violations highlighted in the Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2010 (BTR) report. It dismisses all but four of the violations. A selection of Nestlé's arguments are examined here.
● Executives continue to defend promoting their formula with health claims, such as that it ‘protects’. Logos with such claims have been added to labels in 120 countries it has said. Nestlé does not respond to the fact that Article 9 prohibits idealising text and logos.
● Nestlé claims that promotional materials were intended for health workers only and are “scientific and factual”, whereas the evidence shows they have unsubstantiated claims and sometimes have been found distributed to pregnant women and parents.
● Nestlé claims that many products are not covered by the scope of the code, limiting its application to formulas up to 12 months only although breastfeeding is recommended into the second year of life and beyond. Products are often similarly branded so promotion of milks for older babies serves to promote the whole range.
● BTR exposes that Nestlé rents shelf space in Vietnam and issues instructions on how its infant formula should be displayed. A prominent display of 124 tins of formula at eye level gains the shopkeeper the greatest reward. Nestlé says it is simply paying for the shelf to be set up in “a logical and clean manner.” Violation report dismissed.
Nestlé said it would act on just four violations, most of which had already been targeted, including its leaflet claiming its formula is “The new ‘Gold Standard’ in infant nutrition”. Thousands of boycott supporters targeted this violation in our ‘email Nestlé’ campaign from June 2010.
Nestlé says: “This concern has already been raised with Nestlé by Baby Milk Action and a response was provided.” Nestlé claims “Gold Standard” was “meant to refer to the gold colour of the labels of the product” and that the leaflet was “discontinued in November 2010”.
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STOP PRESS - Nestlé formally charged in India
Nestlé has been committed to trial in India by a magistrate for labelling formula in violation of the Infant Milk Substitutes Act, including not translating warnings into Hindi. Nestlé’s lawyers have managed to delay the trial for seventeen years, but Nestlé now faces a fine or even imprisonment of the Managing Director if convicted. Although Nestlé changed those labels, its latest labels also break the law (page 7).