Thursday, September 30, 2010

You must be having a laugh!


Thanks to VictoriaSlinglady for this.

Why 'Cow & Gate, pah'? If you are in the UK or Ireland, you may have seen that those nice people at Danone were inspired by an earlier laughing baby youtube clip when creating an advertisement for their Cow & Gate formula. This has claims suggesting the formula provides everything a baby needs. However, amongst other shortcomings, formula, unlike breastmilk, it is not a living substance. As a mother produces protective properties in response to infections in the environment, this is passed tailor-made through breastfeeding to a child at its most vulnerable time. In addition, powdered infant formula is not a sterile product, meaning it may contain harmful bacteria such as enterobacter sakazakii and salmonella. Thanks to our campaigning labels in the UK now warn that powdered infant formula is not sterile and instructions are improving, though need to be clearer about the importance of including a step of mixing up the powder with water above 70 degrees Centigrade to kill any bacteria that may be in the formula. The feeding bottle or cup should then be cooled before feeding to the child. For more on making formula feeding safer, see the infant feeding section of this site.

Unfortunately, Danone has little regard for providing accurate information and systematically violates the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly setting out minimum marketing standards. The UK Government has still not implemented these measures (despite repeated calls from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to do so) and the Advertising Standards Authority voluntary advertising code ignores the Code and Resolutions, even though companies should abide by them independently of government measures. However, even the ASA will sometimes take action and last week ruled against a Danone advertisement for Cow & Gate formula, in which the company made untrue claims implying a child over 6 months could only receive the iron it required through a processed milk. In truth a breasfed baby or a baby fed on infant formula, will receive the iron it needs through normal family foods introduced into the diet around that time. See:

Danone is laughing all the way to the bank since taking over the Nutricia, Milupa, Aptamil and Cow & Gate brands in 2007. At that time it promised Baby Milk Action a 'root-and-branch review' of marketing activities. Well, time is now running out and if the forthcoming global monitoring report produced by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) shows that Danone has not delivered on its promise and is getting as bad as Nestlé as it tries to compete with the worst of the baby food companies (which seems to be the case, particularly in Asia), then it will likely face consumer action. The Nestlé boycott is a key tool in forcing Nestlé to change policies and practices (click here for our current campaign action). If Danone won't change to abide by the marketing standards voluntarily, then it may be time to hit it in the pocket in the same way.

In the meantime, in the UK we continue to work to improve the formula marketing requirements to protect breastfeeding and protect babies fed on formula. You can support our current campaign by clicking here.

You might not feel like laughing now, so scroll up and watch that clip again!

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