Saturday, July 24, 2010

Campaign to Simplify the UK Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations

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. 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.

The regulations in their current form place an unnecessary burden on business, the public and enforcement authorities by treating infant formula and follow-on formula differently. When the last government was revising the Regulations, public bodies such as Trading Standards and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition called for the ban on promoting infant formula to all breastmilk substitutes, including follow-on formulas. This was not done. In a review commissioned by the last government, Trading Standards and the umbrella body submitted evidence and stated: "One of the major problems for enforcement officers is the use of advertising and promotional material which blurs the distinction between follow-on formula and infant formula."

Health experts, including the Baby Feeding Law Group, a coalition of 23 health worker and mother support organsiations, called for the law to be brought into line with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly. Baby Milk Action prepared a report (left) that was submitted to the consultation on the law that took place in 2006 that sets out the changes required (click here to access). This references studies by public bodies such as the National Institute for Clinical Excellence that show savings that could be made to the National Health Service by small increases in breastfeeding rates. Simplifying the formula marketing regulations in the way we are proposing, would help to achieve this.

Prohibiting the promotion of breastmilk substitutes does not prevent them being sold. Formula will still be available for those that need it and our proposals will ensure those who use formula have the information they need to reduce risks.

In the General Election in May 2010, the Liberal Democrats, who are now part of the coalition government, supported our pledge saying they will work for the International Code and Resolutions to be implemented in the UK and elsewhere. Now it is time to act on this pledge.

Click here to give your support to our proposal for simplifying the law by clicking on the 5th star under 'Add a Rating' and leave a comment.

Promotion of artificial feeding takes many forms. Our partner in the BFLG, the National Childbirth Trust, is currently highlighting how exam bodies are even playing a role in promoting formula and attacking those who call for companies to abide by the international marketing standards. See the NCT press release at:

Virgin London Marathon keeps sponsorship policy confidential - but welcomes Nestle back for 2011

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."

We have asked why the sponsorship policy is confidential. Many organisations do make their sponsorship policy publicly available. The better organisations are also prepared to consult on their policies or welcome feedback on them.

Obviously we are also concerned to learn that Virgin London Marathon has a sponsorship policy that allows a company as unethical as Nestlé to pass as a sponsor. We have asked what consideration was given, if any, to ethical concerns over Nestlé's practices and the promotion of its name, particularly given it is the most boycotted company in the UK and this has an impact on many who wish to support the London Marathon.

Organisations such as Nelson Mandela's Children's Fund and Breakthrough Breast Cancer have turned down donations (of £250,000 and £1 million respectively) from Nestlé because it conflicts with their funding policies. Nestlé's current Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, has clearly stated that the purpose of supporting good causes is to benefit shareholders. Putting those who wish to run the London Marathon, often in support of a charity themselves, in the position where they have to break their boycott or put their health at risk is a pretty disgusting strategy. For further analysis of Mr. Brabeck's view of good causes see:

Nestlé is targeted with boycott action over its marketing of baby milk. In its current global marketing campaign, it is claiming its baby milk 'protects' babies and is 'The new "Gold Standard" in infant nutrition'. Babies fed on baby milk rather than breastfed are at greater risk of becoming ill and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. Members of the public are emailing Nestlé, but the company has indicated it will continue this strategy, which violates the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. See the Email Nestlé campaign.

Nestlé is also specifically criticised over its bottled water businesses, as explained in our press release for the London Marathon in 2010.

Nestlé is one of the companies people can vote into the Corporate Hall of Shame in 2010. The nomination states:

"Nestlé – for undermining the human right to water and aggressively expanding its environmentally destructive water bottling operations over the objections of communities globally."

Baby Milk Action would welcome the organisers of the Virgin London Marathon being open about their sponsorship policy and allow people who wish ethical standards to be applied to comment.

Anyone who wishes to register their concern over Nestlé being promoted as a sponsor of the London Marathon, can join the Facebook group: "We want Nestlé out of the London Marathon". See:

Update 22 July 2010 - The Virgin London Marathon has already responded by saying 'no further comment' to our questions regarding why the sponsorship policy is being kept confidential and what consideration was given to concerns about Nestlé's suitability.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What's the real 'Gold Standard' in infant nutrition, Paul?

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:

Paul, the psychic octopus

Friday, July 09, 2010

Nestle won't stop its baby milk 'protects' marketing strategy just yet

I have posted an analysis of Nestlé's response to Baby Milk Action's current 'Email Nestlé' campaign to our website. Nestlé has added logos to labels claiming its baby milk 'protects' babies and is promoting them with this and other health claims.

Nestlé is sending a standard response to people who have sent emails. This is given on our site with Baby Milk Action's analysis and a suggested reply. See: