this House notes that the monitoring evidence collected by the International Baby Food
Action Network (IBFAN), a network of more than 200 groups in over 100 countries,
demonstrates that companies continue to market baby food products in breach of the World
Health Assembly International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent
relevant resolutions; also notes that where there is malpractice it is systematic and
institutionalised and that, globally, 1.5 million infants die every year because they are
not breastfed, and that even in industrialised countries with universal access to health
care, there are significant negative effects of artificial infant feeding, including
increased risk of diabetes and obesity; is concerned that UK law only implements some
provisions of the Code, limiting these to infant formula, not all breastmilk substitutes,
and that follow-on formula, with similar packaging and the same name as the infant
formula, is widely advertised, that bottles and teat marketing is totally unregulated, and
that while the Code bans direct contact with the mother, UK companies have baby clubs and
carelines; therefore calls on the Government to support independently monitored and
enforced legislation fully implementing the Code and resolutions at UK, EU and
international level and additional WHA resolutions to strengthen protection of appropriate
infant feeding practices, to address emerging aggressive baby milk food marketing, to make
appropriate policy changes in response to scientific developments, and to take action to
ensure that EU Council Resolution 92/C172/01 on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes in
third countries by community-based manufacturers functions effectively.
Please see below for the IBFAN
(International Baby Food Action Network) PRESS RELEASE 14th May 2004:
Baby food companies exposed as
IBFAN presents evidence at UK Parliament
Click here for reports presented to
A study in today's
Lancet showing the increased risk of heart disease for bottle-fed babies reinforces
the list of health risks of artificial feeding (click here for
Guardian report). This news comes as the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) launches its latest monitoring
report documenting how baby food companies idealise their products, ignoring the negative
health impact of artificial feeding. Evidence gathered through monitoring of baby food
companies in 69 countries was presented at the House of Commons on 13 May.
The meeting was
hosted by UK Member of Parliament, Lynne Jones MP (right), who has tabled an Early Day Motion (a
petition for MPs) calling for the UK Government to support action to end baby food
marketing malpractice in the UK and in other countries. This is already receiving
significant support across political parties.
The IBFAN experts are on their
way to Geneva, where the World Health Assembly is meeting from 17 May to discuss current
concerns in infant and young child nutrition, such as bacterial contamination of powdered
formula and the increased use of bogus health claims to promote artificial feeding.
The Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules
2004 monitoring report analyses the promotional practices of 16 transnational baby
food companies and 14 bottle and teat companies between January 2002 and April 2004. The
benchmark standards used for measuring marketing practices are the International Code of Marketing of
Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolutions.
The marketing requirements aim to defend breastfeeding and to ensure that breastmilk
substitutes are used safely, if necessary, on the basis of adequate information and
Some 3,000 complaints were
received from monitors in 69 countries around the world. After legal checking about 2,000
violations were reported in Breaking the Rules and many of these came with
Yeong Joo Kean, IBFAN's Legal
"We have 712 pictures
of actual violations in the report. There is no way that the companies can deny that they
were found in flagrant violation of the Code and Resolutions."
Click here for an overview
of the report, which highlights the following trends in violations:
- 'Functional' claims. Companies try to
differentiate their formulas by adding a string of additives and then claiming performance
benefits for these.
- Free and low-cost supplies continue.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months continues
to be undermined by most companies.
- Information to health professionals. Companies
violate the requirement that this is restrict to scientific and factual matters.
- Health facilities and health workers continue
to be targeted.
- Sponsorship of medical seminars, conferences
and associations of medical professionals is becoming more widespread.
Click here to download the full 94-page
report containing profiles of the big 16 baby food companies: Abbott-Ross, Danone,
Dumex, Friesland, Gerber, Heinz, Hipp, Humana, Mead Johnson, Meiji, Milupa, Morinaga,
Nestlé, Nutricia, Snow and Wyeth. The major bottle and teat companies are also evaluated.
Country summary reports with the
title Look What They're Doing have been prepared for the following countries:
Typical company responses to reports
of violations are available on the Baby Milk Action website.
For further information contact:
Mike Brady, Baby Milk Action, 23 St. Andrew's Street, Cambridge, CB2 3AX, UK.
International Tel: +44 1223 464420 - Mobile: +44 7986 736179
UK Tel: 01223 464420 - Mobile: 07986 736179
Notes for editors
- Contact details for companies
implicated in the monitoring are available from Baby Milk Action. Baby Milk Action and
Nestlé have taken part in head-to-head interviews in the past (Nestlés Senior
Policy Advisor on its infant nutrition business, Beverley Mirando, can be contacted on +44
208 6675317). Examples of past inadequate responses to reports of violations can be found
in the codewatch section of the Baby Milk Action website: www.babymilkaction.org
- The International Code of Marketing
of Breastmilk Substitutes was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981 as a
minimum requirement to be implemented in its entirety by all
countries. Under Article
11.3 manufacturers and distributors of products within the scope of the Code are
required to ensure their activities at every level comply, independently of government
measures. Subsequent Resolutions address questions of interpretation and changes in
scientific knowledge and marketing practices. Company policies are very different from the
Code and Resolutions, for example, referring only to infant formula. Monitoring
demonstrates systematic and institutionalised violations of the Code and Resolutions as
well as the companies narrower policies.
- The World Health Assembly is to
discuss infant and young child nutrition at its meeting during the week of 17 May. At the
preliminary World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board
meeting in January 2004, the normal practice of preparing a draft Resolution to
address current concerns was sidelined. Enterobacter Sakazakii contamination of powdered
formula and the long-term health disadvantages of artificial feeding are key issues the
industry does not wish to be addressed. Surveys, following the death of an infant in
Belgium from meningitis attributed to contaminated Nestlé formula, have found a high
proportion of tins of formula are contaminated during the manufacturing process after
pasteurisation. At its recent AGM, Nestlé refused to unilaterally provide warnings on its
labels (see Baby Milk
Action press release 22 April).
- According to UNICEF:
Improved breastfeeding practices and reduction of artificial feeding could save an
estimated 1.5 million children a year (State of the Worlds Children
2001). This is equivalent to one needless death every 30 seconds.
Baby Milk Action Press Release
for National Breastfeeding Awareness Week:
Its National Breastfeeding Awareness
Week, but companies can still get away with saying nothing could be simpler or
safer than bottle-feeding
10 May 2004
While the Government and health campaigners
attempt to raise awareness of the benefits to infants and mothers of breastfeeding (it is
currently National Breastfeeding Awareness Week), a new report reveals that companies in
the UK are routinely violating marketing regulations for breastmilk substitutes and
encouraging mothers and health workers to favour artificial feeding over breastfeeding.
Baby Milk Action is to launch a report on violations of the International Code of Marketing of
Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly,
and the weaker UK law on baby milk marketing, at the House of Commons on Thursday 13th
May. Members of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) from around the world will
also be presenting evidence gathered through monitoring of baby food companies in 69
countries. The meeting in the Jubilee Room, 10.30 to 11.30, is being hosted by Lynne Jones
MP who is tabling an Early Day Motion calling for the UK Government to support action to
end baby food marketing malpractice in the UK and in other countries.
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking
Coordinator at Cambridge-based Baby Milk Action, which is coordinating on-going monitoring
in the UK, said:
We are perhaps best known for
promoting the boycott of Nestlé, the worst of the baby food companies at a global level,
but we also work to improve legislation in the UK. Baby Milk Action and members of the
public have reported many cases of illegal promotion of baby milks to Trading Standards
officers in recent months. Prompt action is taken, but the UK Law is so narrow companies
can get away with suggesting their milks increase a babys intelligence or nothing is
simpler or safer than bottle-feeding. There are short and long-term health consequences to
artificial feeding. It costs the NHS millions per year treating sickness associated with
artificial feeding. In developing countries, where there is less access to health care, a
child dies every 30 seconds because it was not breastfed. Mothers in the UK have as much
right to information on infant feeding free from commercial pressure as mothers in other
A UK Department of Health survey released for Breastfeeding Awareness Week shows that
34% of women incorrectly believe that modern infant formula milks are very similar or the
same as breast milk (see Myths
stop women giving babies the best start in life. This is the message baby food
companies present in their promotional campaigns. A preview copy of the summary UK
monitoring report can be emailed to journalists on request.
Reports from other countries will be
available at the meeting on 13 May and shortly afterward on the website www.ibfan.org
along with the full global monitoring report.
For further information contact: Mike Brady,
Baby Milk Action, 23 St. Andrew's Street, Cambridge, CB2 3AX, UK. Tel +44 (0)1223 464420
Fax: +44 (0)1223 464417 Mobile: 07986 736179
Notes for Editors
Wyeth was successfully prosecuted in 2003 for
running an SMA advertisement claiming: Its great to know your bottle-fed baby
is getting the best start in life. (click for press release).
Companies continue to run advertisements
claiming formula will support natural defences or will be nourishing
babys body and mind.
Bottle firm Maws has claimed its bottles are
clinically proven to reduce crying time.... nothing could be simpler or safer
(click here to see the
NUMICO sends postcards to pregnant women and
new mothers encouraging them to call its Milupa and Cow&Gate-branded
carelines for information on infant care.
The monitoring report reveals other
strategies, including how baby food companies are training health workers on infant
nutrition and even running ante-natal and post-natal classes for mothers.