Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Book a speaker - or listen on line

Baby Milk Action can provide speakers on the baby milk issue, the marketing requirements and the boycott campaign. We also turn out to debate with Nestlé, though recently they have taken to refusing, having lost all past debates.

Last week I spoke at an event in Cardiff at the start of National Breastfeeding Awareness Week.

In the interests of boring as many people as possible, I have made my talk available on line. You can read it, download the powerpoint show and listen to the podcast. Go to:

All for no charge!

Though donations are welcome and if you do want a speaker in person we have to ask for our costs to be covered, including a preparation fee (though we can be flexible). It is important to get the information out there, but as a small office stretched to the limit timewise and financially we do have to ask for money, I'm afraid.

In my Cardiff talk I examined how the baby food companies in the UK bombard mothers with promotional information and try to co-opt health workers to promote their products.

I also questioned whether we can trust companies to give scientific and factual information to health workers on their products or there should be other mechanisms for evaluating their claims to ensure that health workers are aware of the findings of independent research. Many health facilities have a designated person to meet company representatives, but that puts the onus on one person to evaluate what are often misleading claims from companies. And company reps. try to meet other staff off health service premises to get around such policies.

If you have views on this or anything else in the talk, please do contact me or leave comments here.

While we have had some recent success in cracking down on the claims companies make on labels in the UK, there is still a long way to go. I ended my talk looking at a tin of formula from Brazil.

Compare this to the labels we have with teddy bears or other animals and claims about ingredients.

As I said at the end of my talk: "What does this tin look like? A tin of nutritional medicine perhaps? Not a children’s toy or some advertising hoarding? It even carries a Ministry of Health warning in stipulated text."

It is hardly surprising breastfeeding rates are increasing in Brazil while the latest figures in the UK show most breastfeeding duration figures are either static or moving in the wrong direction.

I've posted my talk with the title: "Protecting a mother's right to independent information on infant feeding."

Mothers need independent information, support if they have difficulties breastfeeding and, if formula-feeding, information on how to reduce the risks.

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