Tell Nestlé that formula doesn't PROTECT babies

Baby Milk Action is heading up a campaign to e-mail Nestlé about its formula labels that claim that its formula protects babies. It is encouraging people to e-mail Nestlé to demand that it put a stop to this practice.  Here is a brief excerpt from Baby Milk Action's facebook page:

Nestle's latest global marketing strategy is to promote its baby milk with the claim it 'protects' babies. Nestle knows that babies fed on its formula are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. But Nestle puts its own profits before the lives of babies with strategies like this.

Baby Milk Action and our partners have stopped similar practices in the past through pressure from the boycott and will stop this - but only with your help.

Some people who wrote to Nestlé have received responses like this one received by Greta Blau:

Dear Mrs Blau

There is no question about breast-milk being the best start a baby can have in life. To emphasise this, the following statement, "Important notice: Breast-milk is best for babies. Before you decide to use an infant formula consult your doctor or clinic for advice", appears on all our infant formula products. However, for infants who, for whatever reason, cannot be breastfed, it is critically important that a safe, high-quality alternative be made available.

Nestlé makes significant investments in R&D and technology to continuously deliver innovative products with scientifically proven nutritional benefits. We continue to make scientific and technical advances in the area of nutrition and we make sure that our infant formula products are “best in class” to meet as far as possible the nutritional requirements of non-breastfed babies.

The functional benefits that are encapsulated in the “Protect” logo are scientifically substantiated – the result of many years of intensive research on how best to improve the formula composition to stimulate the infant’s immune system. The logo helps distinguish this particular formula from other less advanced products but does not claim in any manner that infant formula is superior or equal to breast-milk.

Infant formula products are heavily regulated by governments to ensure that consumers have technically precise and accurate information. In countries where the “Protect” logo is used, it is consistent with the local legislative and regulatory framework. For instance, in Malawi, the infant formula was registered with the national health authorities prior to its launch and they communicated no concern about it to us.

We hope to have answered your concerns. Do not hesitate to contact us would you have further questions.

Best regards,
Dr Gayle Crozier Willi
Issues Manager
Public Affairs
Nestlé SA
Avenue Nestlé 55
CH-1800 Vevey

I wrote about this issue previously when I asked Nestlé about the wording on its labels. Here is a brief excerpt of my key point from that post:

Nestle is right that this label contains a clause saying that “breastmilk provides the best food for your baby and reduces the risk of diarrhea and illnesses” (see the small print at the bottom of the can), but it is significantly less prominent than the big PROTECT stamp telling you all the wonderful ways that Nestle formula will protect your baby. The thing is, all of those protections and more exist in breastmilk.

Where I live, we have language laws designed to protect the French language. On signs, labels, etc. the French has to be more prominent than the English. Perhaps we need a similar law for breastfeeding protection. A law that says that the information on breastmilk being best must be bigger than any claim about the formula and it must be clear that the claim about the formula is compared with other formulas, not compared with breastmilk.

Please take a moment to e-mail Nestlé and tell Dr. Gayle Crozier that claiming that Nestlé's formula protects is inappropriate and that small print at the bottom of the can about breast being best doesn't make up for that.

Click here to send an e-mail (sample text provided that you can edit).

Thank you for helping send a message to Nestlé that it has to do better.

Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at PhD in Parenting - http://phdinparenting.com

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