Press releases

WHO breastfeeding recommendations under attack from industry-funded scientists.

see also new Policy Blog: http://info.babymilkaction.org/node/326


WHO breastfeeding recommendations under attack from industry-funded scientists

Press release 14 January 2011

The BBC,  the Guardian, The Times, The Sun and  other media are carrying stories - about a comment piece from four authors published in the British Medical Journal today challenging World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation that breastfeeding is exclusive for 6 months (no other foods or drinks introduced). The media coverage implies that the challenge is based on new evidence. In fact this is not a new scientific study nor a systematic review, but the authors review of selected past research, published in the 'Analysis' section of the BMJ. 

Update 43: Health claims fuel the formula market - but, Nestlé admits 'no proven benefits' from added ingredients

 

Update 43 and Nestlé boycott news  Health claims fuel the formula market - but, Nestlé admits 'no proven benefits' from added ingredients

 

 

Baby Milk Action’s latest newsletter is enclosed and is available on-line at www.babymilkaction.org with links to supporting documents and hi-resolution images. 

Top stories.

 

EU Deadline on Health Claims:  Following secret meetings in Brussels, a claim that implies that follow-on milks and baby foods  will improve babies’ eyesight has jumped two bureaucratic hurdles and may soon be officially authorised as legal by the European Union – even though there is no  independent evidence to support it.  Health bodies are calling on Members of the European Parliament  to oppose the claims before the final deadline of 6th of March (pg 11).

 

World Health Assembly adopts two landmark Resolutions calling for restrictions on the promotion of junk foods and baby foods. Twenty nine years after the adoption of the landmark International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, the new Resolutions could have a long-lasting impact on child health.  WHA Resolution 63.23 calls for tough action on health and nutrition claims and other inappropriate promotions of baby formulas and foods (pg 6).

 

Breaking the Rules – Stretching the Rules 2010 (BTR) published: A new three-year report from over 46 countries shows how the multi-million dollar baby food industry misleads parents and breaks the International Code and its subsequent World Health Assembly resolutions. Unlike industry-funded analyses, BTR looks at real labels and promotion - not just what companies SAY they do. A must for anyone wishing to understand how marketing undermines infant health (pg 9).

 

Nestlé has at last admitted that optional ingredients added to its formula are of ‘no proven benefit’ - but it still refuses to stop the global marketing strategy based upon them. Nestle is the global market leader, more so since taking over Gerber, and sets trends others follow (pg 14).

 

A ‘root-and-branch’ review of marketing practices promised by Danone after buying the Nutricia, Milupa and Cow & Gate brands has not improved the situation. Danone, now second in the global baby food market, is likely to find itself the target of a consumer boycott if changes are not made (pg 13).

 

Building Trust through Education Update 43 shows how the companies are increasingly using ‘education’ and breastfeeding promotion as a way of presenting themselves as trustworthy agents for health and development who do not need to be regulated (pg 12, 13 & 18).

 

Formula Explained - new DVD produced by the Baby Feeding Law Group (BFLG) provides evidence-based, independent information about infant formula from experts from the Royal  College of Paediatrics and Child Health and other member organisations (pg 10).

 

The WBTi State of Breastfeeding in 33 Countries report is packed with useful charts showing how policy gaps are leading to babies missing out on their foundation for development and protection from disease. Millions of newborns in the 3 continents studied are still not receiving any breastmilk at all and fewer still are breastfed for six months of life (pg 8)

 

UK Health bodies says NO to corporate funding and influence in infant feeding. The Baby Feeding Law Group and the Breastfeeding Manifesto Coalition (BMC)  - representing over 40 health professional and lay organisations - including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Midwives is calling on the Department of Health to ensure that infant feeding, food, tobacco and alcohol companies and any company targeting families are not  allowed to sponsor infant feeding information. The  Royal College of Midwives – a key member of the two coalitions - drops formula adverts from their journal (pg 4).

 

Web: www.babymilkaction.org Contact mikebrady@babymilkaction.org Tel: 07986 736179  Patti Rundall: 07786 523493

 

Health bodies call for moratorium on EU health and nutrition claims on baby foods

STOP PRESS: EU Committee approves follow-on milk claim

 STOP PRESS: The EU Committee that met in a closed meeting on the 6th December APPROVED the claim that DHA improves eyesight for use on follow-on milks and baby foods.  We believe that it is  false  and misleading to allow such a claim on follow-on milks.

 Members of the European Parliament and the European Council now have 3 months to comment.  Please contact your local MEP and asked them to stop this claim being approved.

Health bodies call for moratorium on EU health and nutrition claims on baby foods

 

3rd December 2010

A closed meeting in Brussels will take place on Monday 6th December where the European Commission and EU Member States are set to legitimise 4 health claims (1) used by companies to suggest that baby formulas, foods and supplements with added LCPs (Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids) can improve brain and eye development, despite a lack of independent scientific evidence and protestations from health experts such as the Baby Feeding Law Group. 

Baby Milk Action has said if adding synthetic LCPs were proven to reduce the health risks of formula feeding compared to breastfeeding, they should be added to all formulas, instead of used to promote formula sales.  The 4 claims are already in widespread use as a key way of idealising formula, despite the fact that an influential review of studies on LCPs in formula has found ‘no proven benefit’ for adding the ingredients, and the industry has been lobbying hard for the European Commission to back them. 

The Baby Feeding Law Group (BFLG)  a coalition of 24 health professional and lay organisations, including the Royal Colleges of Paediatrics, Nursing and Midwifery is calling on the  EU Commission and Parliament  to ensure that no health or nutrition claims are permitted on  foods for infants and young children,  stating that a   dangerous precedent will be set if  these highly promotional claims are authorised.  Parents in the EU and wherever these products are exported will be misled. The BFLG is working to ensure that ALL  parents -  those who breastfeed and those who decide to use processed  formulas and foods- should do so on the basis of truly objective information.  

 

[Left: The industry is attempting to legitimise misleading advertising like this from a website - add LCPs and the fuzzy duck comes into focus. You wouldn't know if from this advertisement, but research has shown that infants who are not breastfed have poorer neurological and eye development than breastfed babies. Companies promote their products with added LCPs as if babies benefit from being fed on it. Just two synthesised LCPs inspired by the many found naturally in breastmilk that are believed to play a role in brain and eye development are added, but there is 'no proven benefit' adding these processed ingredients to the different environment of formula impacts on its shortcomings].

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY: The 4 claims in question have been under discussion for over a year because of Member States concerns.  The BFLG is now calling for  a moratorium on all decisions regarding claims on foods for infants and young children until the  outdated procedures for handling baby food legislation is changed, and for the procedures to be transparent, accountable  and democratic.   

In 1989 a  PARNUTs Framework Directive transferred  the power to initiate and finalize legislation on baby foods and specialised foods to the Commission. Parliament no longer had to be consulted and discussions could take place behind closed doors. (2) However, because claims also fall under the European Nutrition and Health Claims Regulations (1924/2006) there is a clash, and the final decision on these particular claims may require the consent of MEPs.   

    The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)  is not required to look at 'risk' in relation to claims or to look at independently funded science. EFSA reached its opinions on the basis of 'proprietary information' provided by companies that is commercially secret and not open to public scrutiny.

Patti Rundall OBE, Policy Director at Baby Milk Action, said: 

These claims are big business for baby food companies who use them to suggest their formula will make babies brainy, diverting attention from the fact that breastfed babies are proven to have better brain and eye development. While it is clear that new ingredients DO need to be added to formulas to address their inadequacies,  this should only be permitted if ingredients  are proven to be safe and essential, through an independent systematic review of research which  includes a substantial proportion of independently funded research.  The ingredient must  then be mandatory in all formulas - not added as an optional ingredient to some formulas and promoted with a claim (3).

Dr. Colin Michie, Chair of Nutrition, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health supports breast feeding as the optimal way to feed an infant. Its totally inappropriate for infant formulas or  follow on formulas to carry health or nutrition claims, which inevitably  imply a health advantage over breastfeeding.  Claims are especially problematic (or misleading) when independent and well respected bodies such as the Cochrane Library have found no evidence to support them. Since infants are a vulnerable group the safety of the ingredients is paramount, so additives should only be used if they have been demonstrated by an independent review of scientific data  to be  safe and essential. Then they should be added to ALL formulas - not promoted with a claim.  

In  2007 the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) stated: 

We find the case for labelling infant formula or follow on formula with health or nutrition claims entirely unsupportable. If an ingredient is unequivocally beneficial as demonstrated by independent review of scientific data it would be unethical to withhold it for commercial reasons. Rather it should be made a required ingredient of infant formula in order to reduce existing risks associated with artificial feeding.

The Cochrane Library reviewed has reviewed the research on LCPs and concluded:

It has been suggested that low levels of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) found in formula milk may contribute to lower IQ levels and vision skills in term infants. Some milk formulas with added LCPUFA are commercially available. This review found that feeding term infants with milk formula enriched with LCPUFA had no proven benefit regarding vision, cognition or physical growth.

Dr Ricardo Uauy, a world expert on fatty acids, from the London Sch. of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in June 2010:

The evidence for effectiveness of DHA addition to formula for term babies in terms of improved long-term mental development is weak at best ... until stronger data are available I would opt for a view that the effects of DHA on mental development are not sufficiently documented to establish public health policy.

DAMAGING INTERNATIONAL IMPACT:   All EU Member States have endorsed the WHA 2010 Resolution on Infant and Young Child Nutrition (63.23) which stressed the importance of breastfeeding in child survival and the harm caused by inappropriate marketing (3)  The lack of transparency and policy coherence between the EU policy and UN recommendations has prevented Member States  from carrying out their obligations  under the WHA Resolutions. This has had a profound damaging impact on health policy setting and practice in developing countries where these claims are rampant.

The EU has claimed that development is at the heart of its external action, and that the primary and overarching objective of its policy is the eradication of poverty in the context of sustainable development, including the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and respect for human rights. 

These principles will ring hollow if  these four claims are passed.  The claims will be  exported on packages and will be used by companies as evidence authenticity  in their lobby to weaken legislation in developing countries.  

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:  Patti Rundall 07786 523493


NOTES: 

(1) Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH)  agenda for 6th December 2010: http://ec.europa.eu/food/committees/regulatory/scfcah/general_food/agenda06122010_en.pdf

Agenda Item 6 

6. Exchange of views and possible opinion on a Draft Commission Regulation (EU) on the authorisation and refusal of authorisation of certain health claims made on foods and referring to children's development and health (SANCO/13017/2010) (10th batch, Art. 14 of Regulation (EC) N° 1924/2006) (Regulatory procedure with scrutiny of the European Parliament and of the Council). (CA)

The claims being discussed are as follows:

'ALA contributes to the brain development of children'

'DHA has a structural and functional role in the retina and DHA intake contributes to the visual development of infants up to 12 months of age'

'DHA has a structural and functional role in the retina and maternal DHA intake contributes to the normal development of the eye of the foetus and breastfed infants' and 'DHA has a structural and functional role in the brain and maternal DHA intake contributes to the normal brain development of the foetus and breastfed infants'.

(2) Council Directive on Foodstuffs Intended for Particular Nutritional Uses (89/398/EEC)  (PARNUTS),  COMMISSION DIRECTIVE 2006/125/EC on processed cereal-based foods and baby foods for infants and young children See Time to Change the rules?: http://info.babymilkaction.org/update/update42page13#parnuts

(3) While the benefits of Long Chain Polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs) in breastmilk are proven, the case for adding synthetic LCPs to the different environment of infant formula has not been. The case for adding LCPs to follow-on milks, which are part of a mixed diet, and then to make promotional claims is weaker still.   

see http://info.babymilkaction.org/update/update42page12

Choosing a formula – what is the evidence for different milks and added ingredients? NCT New Digest July 2010 http://www.nct.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/research/roebaby-feeding

(4) When the ingredients behind the claims were first developed commercially in the 1990s, industry analysts said companies would add them to baby milks regardless of any benefit to suggest their formula was ‘closer to breastmilk’.   The Hambrecht & Quist Spot Report on the Martek Bio-sciences Corporation in 1996 said: “Even if Formulaide (DHA/AHA) had no benefit we think that it would be widely incorporated into most formulas as a marketing tool and to allow companies to promote their formula as ‘closest to human milk’.” 

(5)  The WHA 2010 Resolution on Infant and Young Child Nutrition (63.23) calls on Member States to “end to all forms of inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children and to ensure that nutrition and health claims shall not be permitted except where specifically provided for  in relevant Codex Alimentarius standards or national legislation”. It also  stated:  "the promotion of breast-milk substitutes and some commercial foods for infants and young children undermines progress in optimal infant and young child feeding.....inappropriate feeding practices and their consequences are major obstacles to attaining sustainable socioeconomic development and poverty reduction... the improvement of exclusive breastfeeding practices, adequate and timely complementary feeding, along with continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond, could save annually the lives of 1.5 million children under five years of age."

http://info.babymilkaction.org/pressrelease/pressrelease22may10  or  

http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA63-REC1/WHA63_REC1-P2-en.pdf   

 

 

See: Policy Blog for decision by the New Zealand ASA to uphold a complaint against Wyeth for S26 Lutien eye claim

http://info.babymilkaction.org/node/261

 

 

International Nestlé-Free Week 2010

Nestlé-Free Zone

Event 25 - 31 October 2010

Nestlé is the target of a boycott over its aggressive marketing of baby milks around the world. International Nestlé-Free Week (25 - 31 October 2010) is a time for those who support the boycott to do more to promote it and for those who don't boycott to give it a go, at least for a week, by avoiding Nescafé, the principal target of the boycott, and other Nestlé products. Nestlé is one of the four most boycotted companies on the planet, according to GMI, and the boycott has forced important changes. During International Nestlé-Free Week 2010, Baby Milk Action is calling on the public to email Nestlé over its latest global baby milk marketing strategy. Nestlé is targeting mothers and health workers with the claim its formula 'protects' babies even though babies fed on formula are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. Nestlé is accused of undermining the 'breast is best' message by claiming its formula is 'The new "Gold Standard" in infant nutrition' (image below). Nestlé is also accused of refusing to provide important information to parents and carers who use formula. Nestlé has already received thousands of emails, but is so far refusing to drop this marketing campaign. 

United Reformed Church Assembly 2010 backs Nestlé boycott

Media coverage: Church Times 16 July 2010.

Update 26 November 2011: URC Assembly resolution renewing support for Nestlé boycott has surprising consequence

The United Reformed Church Assembly meeting on 4 July 2010 has given its support to continuing to boycott Nestlé over its aggressive marketing of baby foods. Baby Milk Action has welcomed the decision of the URC to continue its long-running support for the campaign.

Nestlé has tried hard to overturn URC support for the boycott. Last December Nestlé sent a team led by Vice President, Neils Christiansen, to try to persuade URC and other church representatives that the company had changed its business practices. However, Nestlé continues to reject the four-point plan put to the company by Baby Milk Action for saving infant lives and ending the boycott. Monitoring conducted by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), shows Nestlé continues to systematically violate World Health Assembly marketing standards. It is a requirement of the four-point plan and the criteria of ethical investment listings, such as FTSE4Good, that Nestlé accept the marketing standards and bring policies and practices into line. [Update March 2011: FTSE4Good weakened its criteria in September 2010, allowing companies to be listed without having to make changes to their practices. It is hoped that the URC Assembly will reconsider its reference to the FTSE4Good listing in light of this change. Click here for Baby Milk Action's briefing recommending that people who want to hold baby food companies to account DO NOT invest in a FTSE4Good tracker].

UN Global Compact - 10 years of helping cover up corporate malpractice

The United Nations Global Compact marks its 10th anniversary in New York on Thursday 24 June 2010. Nestlé, one of the four most boycotted companies on the planet, is a patron sponsor, despite being the target of a complaint for egregious violations of the Global Compact Principles, a complaint the Global Compact Office has refused to investigate.

http://www.leaderssummit2010.org/

The Global Compact sets out Principles that corporations are asked to abide by voluntarily. Baby Milk Action registered complaints about Nestlé in 2009 and found that the Global Compact is not only ineffective in stopping malpractice, it enables them to continue by providing public relations cover and promoting company reports without checking for factual accuracy or investigating when egregious violations of the Global Compact Principles are reported.

Brazilian Breastfeeding Conference - message of solidarity for campaign against Nestle's 'protect' baby milk marketing strategy

[The following message has been received from the Brazilian National Breastfeeding Conference (10 - 12 June 2010) - Encontro Nacional de Aleitamento Materno (ENAM) - regarding Nestlé's latest global breastmilk substitutes marketing strategy and Baby Milk Action's campaign to stop this. It is UK Breastfeeding Awarness Week at present (21 - 27 June)]

Participants at the ENAM Conference are concerned to learn that Nestlé is promoting its breastmilk substitutes around the world with the claim its products 'protect' babies. Like Nestlé we know that babies fed on breastmilk substitutes are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die.

Protest Nestlé's claim that breastmilk substitutes 'protect' babies, public urged for UK breastfeeding awareness week (21 - 27 June 2010)

[Media coverage: The Scotsman 22 June - Community Newswire 21 June 2010]

Campaign group Baby Milk Action is urging members of the public to spare ONE MINUTE in June, which includes UK breastfeeding awareness week (21 to 27 June 2010), to send a protest email to Nestlé over its claim that its baby milk 'protects' babies. The campaign is backed by a youtube clip and Facebook event (UPDATE: NESTLÉ IS NOT LISTENING - THE CAMPAIGN CONTINUES click here for campaign page).

World Health Assembly adopts two landmark Resolutions on the promotion of junk foods and baby foods

 

World Health Assembly adopts two landmark Resolutions on the promotion of junk foods and baby foods

21st May 2010

Palais des Nations,  Geneva 

 

Tonight, 29 years after the adoption of the landmark  International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, the World Health Assembly adopted two new historic Resolutions which should have long lasting impact on child health. 

 

First a Resolution (WHA 63.14) proposed by Norway called for Member States to implement a set of recommendations which aim to reduce the impact on children of the marketing of 'junk' foods.  They call on Governments to restrict marketing,  including in 'settings where children gather' such as schools and to avoid conflicts of interest. 

 

The 'junk food code' (1) as many refer to it - was closely followed by a Resolution on Infant and Young Child Nutrition, which also highlighted the impact of commercial promotion  of baby foods on the health and survival of children, including the rise in childhood obesity, which is now known to be closely linked with artificial feeding, (2)

 

The baby food Resolution was debated over three days and tackled several controversial issues including,  firstly the need to protect promote and support breastfeeding in emergencies and the need to minimise the risks of artificial by ensuring that any required breastmilk substitutes  are purchased, distributed  and used according to strict criteria.  Member States were urged to follow the  Operational Guidance on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies for Emergency Relief Staff. (3)

 

Secondly -  a policy change  that has been resisted  by the baby food industry for three decades  - that there should be an 'end to all forms of inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children and that nutrition and health claims should not be permitted on these foods'. The Resolution should stop the widespread use of claims about better IQ, better eyesight or protection from infection, which are so misleading to parents. The misleading advertising and labelling of baby foods also entices parents to use them before recommended age of 6 months. 

 

The baby food industry were out in force to witness as Member State after Member State highlighted their continued irresponsible and inappropriate promotion.  Thailand,  expressed "deep concern over the ineffectiveness of voluntary measures' and called for legislative measures to control the marketing."  The Delegate of Swaziland, Thulani Maphosa,  highlighted his country's concern about the unethical sponsorship of health workers by baby food companies and the need to address conflicts of interest.   

Francesco Branca,  WHO,  Director of Nutrition for Health and Development, said: "The World Health Assembly has recognized the importance of nutrition for the achievement of the health Millennium Development Goals and the need to scale up nutrition interventions but first of all exclusive breastfeeding. We look forward to an increased commitment of governments and civil society to enforce the Resolution, developed thanks to the leadership of the government of Peru and other countries who have successfully tackled nutrition challenges".

 Dr Elizabeth Mason, Director of Child and Adolescent Health said,  " We are very excited about  this Resolution and the renewed commitment for  the protection of breastfeeding and will continue its support to Member States on this very important issue."

 

Other Resolutions, on the Millennium Development Goals and the Prevention Pneumonia, adopted today,  recognised the core importance of breastfeeding in reducing child mortality.  As the WHO Secretariat Report,stated: "Breastfeeding is today the single most effective preventive intervention for improving the survival and health of children"  

 

 

Below and Attached  is an unedited version of the new Resolution which contains some minor mistakes. The Official  text will be on the WHO website early next week : http://apps.who.int/gb/e/e_wha63.html

 

 

 

1 WHA Resolution 63.14 Marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children.  http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA63/A63_R14-en.pdf

 

2 Children who are breastfed are at reduced risk of obesity.77 Studies have found that the likelihood of obesity is 22% lower among children who were breastfed.78 The strongest effects were observed among adolescents, meaning that the obesity-reducing benefits of breastfeeding extend many years into a child’s life.Another study determined that the risk of becoming overweight was reduced by 4% for each month of breastfeeding.79 This effect plateaued after nine months of breastfeeding.  SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY  WITHIN A GENERATION  White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President   May 2010 http://www.letsmove.gov/tfco_fullreport_may2010.pdf

 

3  Operational Guidance on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies for Emergency relief staff. V 2.1) (www.ennonline.net/resources/6   

 

For more information contact:  

Patti Rundall, OBE, Policy Director, Baby Milk Action  prundall@babymilkaction.org   +44 (0) 7786 523493

Annelies Allain,  Director, International Code Documentation Centre  annelies.allain@gmail.com   

Dr Arun Gupta, Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India: arun@ibfanasia.org   

 

 

SIXTY-THIRD WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY WHA63.23

Agenda item 11.6 21 May 2010

Infant and young child nutrition

 

 

The Sixty-third World Health Assembly,

Having considered the report on infant and young child nutrition; 

Recalling resolutions WHA33.32, WHA34.22, WHA35.26, WHA37.30, WHA39.28, WHA41.11, WHA43.3, WHA45.34, WHA46.7, WHA47.5, WHA49.15 and WHA54.2, WHA 55.25, WHA58.32, WHA59.21, WHA61.20 on infant and young child nutrition, and on nutrition and HIV/AIDS and the Codex Alimentarius Guidelines for use of nutrition and health claims; 

Conscious that achieving the Millennium Development Goals will require the reduction of maternal and child malnutrition;

Aware that worldwide malnutrition accounts for 11% of the global burden of disease, leading to long-term poor health and disability and poor educational and developmental outcomes; that worldwide 186 million children are stunted  and 20 million suffer from the most deadly form of severe acute malnutrition each year; and that nutritional risk factors, including underweight, suboptimal breastfeeding and vitamin and mineral deficiencies, particularly of vitamin A, iron, iodine and zinc, are responsible for 3.9 million deaths (35% of total deaths) and 144 million disability-adjusted life years (33% of total disability-adjusted life years) in children less than five years old;

Aware that countries are faced with increasing public health problems posed by the double burden of malnutrition (both undernutrition and overweight), with its negative later-life consequences;

Acknowledging that 90% of stunted children live in 36 countries and that children under two years of age are most affected by undernutrition;

Recognizing that the promotion of breast-milk substitutes and some commercial foods for infants and young children undermines progress in optimal infant and young child feeding; 

Mindful of the challenges posed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the difficulties in formulating appropriate policies for infant and young child feeding, and concerned that food assistance does not meet the nutritional needs of young children infected by HIV;

Concerned that in emergencies, many of which occur in countries not on track to attain Millennium Development Goal 4 and which include situations created by the effects of climate change, infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition, illness and death; 

Recognizing that national emergency preparedness plans and international emergency responses do not always cover protection, promotion and support of optimal infant and young child feeding; 

Expressing deep concern over persistent reports of violations of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes by some infant food manufacturers and distributors with regard to promotion targeting mothers and health-care workers; 

Expressing further concern over reports of the ineffectiveness of measures, particularly voluntary measures, to ensure compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in some countries; 

Aware that inappropriate feeding practices and their consequences are major obstacles to attaining sustainable socioeconomic development and poverty reduction;

Concerned about the vast numbers of infants and young children who are still inappropriately fed and whose nutritional status, growth and development, health and survival are thereby compromised;

Mindful of the fact that implementation of the global strategy for infant and young child feeding and its operational targets requires strong political commitment and a comprehensive approach, including strengthening of health systems and communities with particular emphasis on the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, and careful monitoring of the effectiveness of the interventions used;

Recognizing that the improvement of exclusive breastfeeding practices, adequate and timely complementary feeding, along with continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond, could save annually the lives of 1.5 million children under five years of age.

Aware that multisectoral food and nutrition policies are needed for the successful scaling up of evidence-based safe and effective nutrition interventions;

Recognizing the need for comprehensive national policies on infant and young child feeding that are well integrated within national strategies for nutrition and child survival;

Convinced that it is time for governments, civil society and the international community to renew their commitment to promoting the optimal feeding of infants and young children and to work together closely for this purpose;

Convinced that strengthening of national nutrition surveillance is crucial in implementing effective nutrition policies and scaling up interventions,

1. URGES Member States:

(1) to increase political commitment in order to prevent and reduce malnutrition in all its forms;

(2) to strengthen and expedite the sustainable implementation of the global strategy for infant and young child feeding including emphasis on giving effect to the aim and principles of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, and the implementation of the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative; 

(3)  to develop and/or strengthen legislative, regulatory and/or other effective measures to control the marketing of breastmilk substitutes in order to give effect to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and relevant resolution adopted by the World Health Assembly;

(4) to end inappropriate promotion of food for infants and young children and to ensure that nutrition and health claims shall not be permitted for foods for infants and young children, except where specifically provided for, in relevant Codex Alimentarius standards or national legislation;

(5) to develop or review current policy frameworks addressing the double burden of malnutrition and to include in the framework childhood obesity and food security and allocate adequate human and financial resources to ensure their implementation;

(6) to scale up interventions to improve infant and young child nutrition in an integrated manner  with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding and timely, safe and appropriate complementary feeding as core interventions; the implementation of interventions for the prevention and management of severe malnutrition; and the targeted control of vitamin and mineral deficiencies;

(7) to consider and implement, as appropriate the revised principles and recommendations on infant feeding in the context of HIV, issued by WHO in 2009, in order to address the infant feeding dilemma for HIV-infected mothers and their families while ensuring protection, promotion and support of exclusive and sustained breastfeeding for the general population; 

(8)  to ensure that national and international preparedness plans and emergency responses follow the evidence-based Operational Guidance for Emergency Relief Staff and Programme Managers  on infant and young child feeding in emergencies, which includes the protection, promotion and support for optimal breastfeeding, and the need to minimize the risks of artificial feeding, by ensuring that any required breast-milk substitutes are purchased, distributed and used according to strict criteria;  

(9) to include the strategies referred to in subparagraph 1(4) above in comprehensive maternal and child health services and support the aim of universal coverage and principles of primary health care, including strengthening health systems as outlined in resolution WHA62.12;

(10) to strengthen nutrition surveillance systems and improve use and reporting of agreed Millennium Development Goals indicators in order to monitor progress;

(11) to implement the WHO Child Growth Standards by their full integration into child health programmes;

(12) to implement the measures for prevention of malnutrition as specified in the WHO strategy for community-based management of severe acute malnutrition,  most importantly improving water and sanitation systems and hygiene practices to protect children against communicable disease and infections; 

2. CALLS UPON infant food manufacturers and distributors to comply fully with their responsibilities under the  International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions; 

3. REQUESTS the Director-General:

(1) to strengthen the evidence base on effective and safe nutrition actions to counteract the public health effects of the double burden of malnutrition, and to describe good practices for successful implementation;

(2) to mainstream nutrition in all WHO’s health policies and strategies and confirm the presence of essential nutrition actions, including integration of the revised principles and recommendations on infant feeding in the context of HIV, issued by WHO in 2009, in the context of the reform of primary health care;

(3) to continue and strengthen the existing mechanisms for collaboration with other United Nations agencies and international organizations involved in the process of ensuring improved nutrition including clear identification of leadership, division of labour and outcomes;

(4) to support Member States, on request, in expanding their nutritional interventions related to the double burden of malnutrition, monitoring and evaluating impact, strengthening or establishing effective nutrition surveillance systems, and implementing the WHO Child Growth Standards, and the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative. 

(5)   to support Member States, on request, in their efforts to develop and/or strengthen legislative, regulatory or other effective measures to control marketing of breast-milk substitutes; 

(6) to develop a comprehensive implementation plan on infant and young child nutrition as a critical component of a global multisectoral nutrition framework for preliminary discussion at the Sixty-fourth World Health Assembly and for final delivery at the Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly, through the Executive Board and after broad consultation with Member States.

Eighth plenary meeting,  21 May 2010

A63/VR/8

 

[1] Document A63/9.

[1] Document CAC/GL/23.

[1] World Health Statistics, May 2010.

[1] Available online at http://www.ennonline.net/resources/6.

[1] Community-based management of severe acute malnutrition: a joint statement by the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition and the United Nations Children’s Fund. Geneva, WHO, 2007.

 

 

 

 

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Demonstration at Nestlé HQ 22 May 2010 11:00 - 12:00

 

Demonstration at Nestlé HQ - Mr. Henry Nastie to explain how company markets baby milk with claim it 'protects'

Photo opportunity 22 May 2010 11:00-12:00

For further information see:

http://info.babymilkaction.org/nestledemonstration

For a film from the demonstration, see:
http://info.babymilkaction.org/news/campaignblog260510
 

Campaigners gathering for the annual boycott demonstration at Nestlé (UK) HQ in Croydon (22 May 11:00 – 12:00) will be targeting Nestlé's latest strategy for promoting baby milk and will be treated to a presentation by spoof marketing guru, Mr. Henry Nastie, who will explain the thinking behind the strategy.

The company has rolled out logos on products in 120 countries claiming the milk 'protects' babies, despite the fact that babies fed on it are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. The aim of the demonstration is to draw attention to Nestlé's continued violation of the World Health Assembly baby food marketing requirements adopted since 1981. The Assembly is currently meeting in Geneva to discuss a further Resolution addressing new marketing strategies. Monitoring conducted by Baby Milk Action and partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) finds Nestlé is responsible for more violations of WHA marketing Resolutions than any other company.

 

According to UNICEF

"Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute."

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, who will be assuming the role of Mr. Henry Nastie at the event, said:

“We have raised this matter directly with Nestlé, including at its shareholder meeting in April, and the executives defend these logos that falsely claim infant formula 'protects babies, and boasted that they have already rolled them out in 120 countries. We asked the Swiss Government office responsible for regulating transnational corporations for help and it asked us to supply the labels. We suggested it request these from Nestlé, which has its headquarters nearby, rather than require us to tour the world. The Swiss Government refused and closed the case, saying it wanted to hear nothing more about it."

Baby Milk Action asked the UN Global Compact to investigate the Nestlé Creating Shared Value reports that it publishes on its website, which claim Nestlé abides by the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions - it refused to do so, saying it is a voluntary system and said: "Of course, abuses of the 10 Principles do occur; however we believe that such abuses only indicate that it is important for the company to remain in the Compact and learn from its mistakes." 

Article 9.2 of the International Code states:

Neither the container nor the label should have pictures of infants, nor should they have other pictures or text which may idealise the use of infant formula[emphasis added]

 

Mike Brady, said:

“Although we have had a lot of success in bringing in national laws, there is no effective international system for regulating corporations when these don't exist or are not monitored and enforced. So it comes down to concerned people taking action to hold corporations to account and that is what we will be doing on Nestlé's doorstep. We have forced some changes from Nestlé and with enough support we will get these misleading logos and dangerous claims removed."

For information on past campaigns that have forced Nestlé to make changes - and how this has been spun by Nestlé - see: http://info.babymilkaction.org/news/campaignblog170510

For further information on the complaints to the Swiss Government and UN Global Compact, see: http://info.babymilkaction.org/news/policyblog210510

Nestlé's 'protect' claims are appearing on formula around the world. The picture left shows a display in a rural trading centre in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, where under-5 mortality is 140 per 1,000 live births. In a campaign in July 2009, Baby Milk Action supporters asked Nestlé to investigate why the instructions it claims to give about point-of-sale promotion were not being followed. Nestlé has stated that it has reissued its instructions. 

Mike Brady said: "Such promotion should not happen and we are pleased that our campaign forced Nestlé to investigate why its systems are failing. This picture also shows that Nestlé's misleading claims are appearing on baby milk in the poorest of countries. It is disgusting that Nestlé defends telling mothers and health workers that their babies are protected by its formula, when they are more likely to become sick and even die than if they were breastfed." Click here for a high resolution version.

For further information, contact Mike Brady on 07986 736179.

Notes for editors

Baby Milk Action raised the logos with Nesté in July 2009 and received a response from Nestlé's Global Public Affairs Manager, Dr. Gayle Crozier-Willi, on 14 January 2010 which said:

Nestlé makes significant investment in R&D and technology to deliver innovative products with scientifically proven nutritional benefits in many different areas. Concerning the 'Protect' logo, while all our infant nutrition products meet the needs of non-breastfed babies during the first critical months of life, the functional benefits that are encapsulated in the 'Protect' logo are the result of many years of intensive research on how best to improve the nutritional 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 to breast milk.

The 'proven' nature of the claims is disputed by independent reviewers (see below). In addition, all idealizing claims are prohibited by Article 9.2 of the International Code (given above).

The colourful logo, which says 'Protect Start' on the infant formula for use from birth and 'Protect Plus' on the follow-on formula for use from 6 months and the terms DHA, ARA, Opti-Pro and Bifodigenic effect. Analysis:

DHA and ARA are Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids LCPUFAs. According to the respected Cochrane Library: "It has been suggested that low levels of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) found in formula milk may contribute to lower IQ levels and vision skills in term infants. Some milk formulas with added LCPUFA are commercially available. This review found that feeding term infants with milk formula enriched with LCPUFA had no proven benefit regarding vision, cognition or physical growth." http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab000376.html

Bifodigenic effect appears to be suggesting the formula contains an oligosaccharide - sometimes marketed as 'prebiotics' - (breastmilk contains over 100) to promote bacteria growth and provide protection against allergies. The Cochrane Library concluded a review: "There is insufficient evidence to recommend the addition of prebiotics to infant feeds for prevention of allergic disease or food reactions." http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab006474.html

Opti-Pro implies a benefit for eyes (until recently, Nestlé owned marketed Opti-Free contact lens solutions) or 'Optimum Protein', itself an idealising claim. Nestlé's Dr. Crozier-Willi, said in her letter of 14 January 2010: 

The logo 'Opti-pro' does not refer to eye development at all, rather it refers to an optimised mix of milk proteins which when ingested, results in the infant having a blood amino acid composition which closely resembles that of an infant on breast milk. This represents quite an advance in the application of technology to superior nutrition and is explained in detail in the scientific information that we share with health professionals.

Article 7.2 of the International Code, which states: "Information provided by manufacturers and distributors to health professionals regarding products within the scope of this Code should be restricted to scientific and factual matters, and such information should not imply or create a belief that bottle feeding is equivalent or superior to breastfeeding."

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