Subject: [cwj 118] Nestle's Record
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 13:28:17 -0700
Seq: 118


Nestle is the target of an international boycott, led by  IBFAN (the
International Baby Food Action Network) a network of over 150 citizens
groups in over 90 countries. Why?  Nestle pushes infant formula through
massive PR instead of breast feeding.  Check out the excellent resources on
this campaign at

Here is a summary of some of the issues raised by the campaign against Nestle.


Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective

Issue 227, Friday 10th September 1999



"A bottle fed child is 25 times more likely to die from diarrhoea than a
breast fed child where water is unsafe."

"Over 4,000 babies die every day in poor countries because they're not
breastfed. That's not conjecture, it's UNICEF fact."
- Baby Milk Action.

"Many people now believe in modern superstitions, these include the use of
bottle milk; these are superstitions no less pernicious than the unhealthy
folk traditions. But while the wrong traditional ways are superstitions
borne out of ignorance, the wrong 'modern' ways are superstitions borne out
of greed. And we all know that greed has strong powerful interests. "
- A former Philippine Health Secretary.

SchNEWS has an old chestnut for you this week. Corporate giants, Nestle
would have us believe they're overflowing with 'the milk of human kindness'
these days; a response to Baby Milk Action's long-term campaign exposing
dodgy dealings in developing countries.

A few months back the company got their wrists slapped and advert banned by
the Advertising Standards Authority after claiming they marketed their
babymilk " ethically and responsibly ". So they turned to advertising gurus
Saatchi and Snaatchi who suggested Nestle " go on the offensive by using
advertising showing the benefits of Nestle financial contributions to
charities ". Nestle general manager, Arthur Furer stated, " It is clear
that we have an urgent need to develop an effective counter-propaganda
operation ".

With an annual promotion budget of nearly $8 billion Nestle has a slight
advantage over mothers who produce breastmilk naturally and do not have a
fortune to spend promoting the advantages of their 'product' Their new
tactic has been to advertise through publications who are respected for
their discerning views (such as the Big Issue) and to make self-promoting
donations to childrens' charities and the church. The first, presumably to
counteract the mental image that the word Nestle conjures up of third world
babies dying in their millions after converting from breast to bottle; the
latter to persuade the church to chill out on their Nestle boycotting
campaign. Nestle have now launched a new range of baby food on the European
market. Reliable sources indicate that in the remaining 4 months of this
year Nestle's promotion budget of #2 million for their new range exceeds
the equivalent expenditure of the two rival brands for the whole year.
Plenty of scope for 'nestleing' up to the public.

Just to remind you of the facts, the World Health Organisation (WHO)
estimate that more than a million babies die every year as a result of
diarrhoea picked up from unhygienic bottle feeding. That's one baby every
30 seconds. Nestle control about 40% of the world baby milk market,
aggressively promoting their babymilk products in developing countries, and
discouraging breastfeeding. Of course, after a short period of bottle
feeding a mother's breastmilk dries up and another consumer is born. They
give 'sweeteners' to healthworkers encouraging them to promote their
products. They are still 'donating' freebies to health facilities in Gabon,
Africa, to encourage the use of their product, despite the Gabon government
asking them to stop. In the Philippines, the company have been exposed for
hiring graduate nurses as 'health educators' to visit mothers at home and
try to convince them to use their products. Ignoring WHO recommendations
that complimentary foods only be introduced from 6 months, Nestle market
teas labelled for feeding 2 week old infants. They do not always provide
clear information and in some cases the labels are in a language that
mothers can't understand.

Sickeningly, Nestle have been getting away with this for longer than you
would believe possible. As early as 1873, Nestle was exporting its 'milk
food' to the colonised world. It's a measure of their power that 126 years
on they still see themselves as above the law, and they're 'milking it' for
all it's worth. Currently in court in India over their baby food labels,
Nestle's reaction is to use their clout to have key sections of the Indian
baby food marketing law scrapped. Back in '39 they were exporting condensed
milk to Singapore and Malaysia as "ideal for delicate infants", though it
was banned in Britain for causing rickets and blindness. In a speech that
would sadly be as relevant 60 years later, Dr Cecily Williams said
"misguided propaganda on infant feeding should be punished as the most
miserable form of sedition; these deaths should be regarded as murder."



   * "Breastfeeding declined rapidly between 1960-70 as the formula milk
market expanded. In Mexico from 100% to 40%, in Chile from 90% to 5%
and in Singapore from 80% to 5% "
- UK Food Group.

   * In the 50's & 60's, doctors working in the 'developing' world observed
that diarrhoea, infections and malnutrition were increasing in babies.
This is rare amongst breastfed babies.

   * Breastfeeding is vital not only because of the nutrients but because
the anti-infective properties protect against disease.

   * In developing countries, extra food for the mother can cost as little
as one tenth of the cost of artificial food for the baby.

   * Poor people often over-dilute baby milk powder with unsafe water to
make it last longer resulting in malnourishment.

   * Recent research by the British Medical Council found that cow's milk
at 26p a pint is just as good for six month old babies as formula milk
which costs around #5 for 10 pints.



   * Nescafe, Gold Blend, Rowntree, After Eights, Quality Street, Sarsons
seasonings, Perrier, Buxton, Findus, Buitoni, Crosse and Blackwell,
Maggi, Branston pickle , Sun-Pat, Shredded Wheat, L'Oreal and Lancome
cosmetics, Winalot, Felix and Choosy pet foods and many, more...For a
comprehensive list contact Baby Milk Action , 23 St Andrews St.,
Cambridge CB2 3AX Tel: 01223 464420

   * Nestle is the worlds largest food manufacturer, with factories in more
than 80 countries and a turnover of $52 billion, taking over #1000 a
second. They are also the focus of the worlds longest running consumer
boycott (22 years). " Breaking the boycott is like crossing the
world's longest running picket line " said a pissed off hack. As a
final accolade, when the European Parliament start holding public
hearings on multinational responsibility and corporate abuses later
this year, Nestle are the first company they intend to put in the

Source: SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton, BN2 2DX, England
Phone/Fax (call before faxing): 01273 685913
Email: Web:

Corporate Watch in Japanese
Transnational Resource and Action Center (TRAC)
P.O. Box 29344
San Francisco, CA 94129 USA
Tel: 1-415-561-6472
Fax: 1-415-561-6493
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