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I’ve done one of these before – I had a bit of an anti – Nestle rant over how corrupt their baby milk was but I’m not going to apologise for it because, as far as I’m concerned they have to be the most shameful multinational company trading today. I got a bit of a slating off from all the young mothers out there before, maybe there was a lack of information and maybe it was a bit off topic but, low and behold there is a whole section where I can write whatever I want– ample more opportunity for me to lay into the f*cks. Though hopefully a more balanced and informative review shall ensue. Its going to have to be a bit of a monster ......
The case that I made previously surrounded the problem with their baby milk formula, I stated that this was bad for a child and that the aggressive and often illegal marketing practices Nestle use to promote the problem does in effect lead to a higher mortality rate for children. Many people believe that this is a problem isolated to the third world, that it arises from poor malnourished mothers mixing it with poor quality water leading to malnutrition for both mother and child along with a series of other problems. I do however maintain that this is a problem effecting both developed and developing countries and that buying Nestle products, aiding some of the most corrupt businessman around would in effect mean that you to are backing such policies.
-------So what’s the problem?-------
***‘The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. Where water is unsafe a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child.’ WHO Website****
Nestle is a pretty all around corrupt company but then that doesn’t necessarily single them out for abuse since, lets face it a large number of multinational companies tend to have there fingers in places they shouldn’t. What makes Nestle special is that they have blatant disregard for international laws meaning they knowingly, in effect, kill babies. No one is going to be upset by them producing artificial baby milk alone, its their disregard for international law and consistent misleading advertising that is the problem, In both the developed and undeveloped countries.
------So why should you breast feed?------
****'Reversing the decline in breastfeeding could save the lives of 1.5 million infants every year according to United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), (Ref: State of the World's Children 1991)****
****"Research conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences estimated that for every 1,000 infants born in this country each year, four will die because they were artificially fed." - Katie Allison Granju****
****UNICEF states that in areas with unsafe water, a bottle-fed baby is 25 times more likely to die from diarrhoea than a breastfed one. ****
These, for me are some of the key points to Nestles corruption. There is ever-increasing evidence from many different health organisations surrounding the harmful effect of Baby Milk formula and it is now appreciated that the artificial milk can be problematic in both the developed and undeveloped world. A big problem it would seem in writing this review is that I am a 25 year male, with no kids so what the hell would I know about breast feeding? Hopefully I shall be able to provide enough evidence of corruption in this and other areas to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Nestle should indeed be boycotted. I am willing to concede that many mothers have problems breast feeding and in this case it would seem that formula is the only alternative. I realise that invariably in a developing country, with the proper medical consultation and attention, it is possible to raise perfectly healthy children meaning that for the casual reader of Ciao breast feeding a baby is not as big an issue as in poorer areas.
According to world health organisation, backed up by UNICEF, IBFAN and a number of other agencies there does though appear to be a large number of problems with breast feeding. According to them a breast fed baby does get a better start in life – the breast milk contains all the antibodies needed to immunise a baby from many illnesses, something powdered milk cannot fully replicate. Breast-feeding can be beneficial to both mother and baby in many ways, these would include (All taken from the IBFAN website):
The reduced likelihood of a child contracting cancer, Diarrhoea, Diabetes, cot death, malocclusion (crooked teeth), Urinary tract infection, ear infection, dental caries, Acute respiratory infection (ARI) and Multiple sclerosis while improving a Childs vision and providing optimal intellectual development. It benefits a mother by reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and Osteoporosis. There are even more problems with using Infant formula in developing countries. Mothers from poor areas tend not to have much income anyway so many will often spend large portions of their income in the belief that it is what’s best for their child, leading to malnutrition for both mother and baby. Further to this they would usually not have access to a good clean water supply so the water they mix the powder with would be dirty and can lead to potentially deadly cases of diarrhoea and other illnesses.
With support it is possible for nearly all mothers to breast-feed and yet many choose not to. The main reason for this is the advertisement and pressure put on them buy big multinational companies such as Nestle to buy their products. In Norway the promotion of artificial infant feeding does not occur and 98% of mothers leave hospital breastfeeding, the world wide average is far lower – a worldwide World Health Organisation survey found: "just 39% of infants were exclusively breastfed for the first six months, as recommended".
-----So what Is Nestle actually doing wrong?------
There are a number of different things that Nestle do that are both unethical and illegal, all leading to the promotion and pushing of their baby milk formula (From the baby milk action website)…..
1. Using inappropriate language.
In the International code Article 9.2 it is required that labels must be made in a language appropriate to the country they are being sold in, something that Nestle does not fully adhere to. There have been a number of occasions when Nestle have been rumoured to have disobeyed this rule, most notably of which was in Mali when, in 1994 a Nestle spokesman said :"Due to cost restraints of small runs it has not been viable to change languages for specific export markets."
2. Using Labels which undermine breast feeding
Article 9.2 of the International code also states that a label should provide a specific warning that breast-feeding is better for a baby and that artificial milk should only be used on the advice of a doctor. Also there should be no pictures that idealise the use of instant formula. The last point is one that Nestle regularly ignores on much of its packaging. In one case a pack of Nestle Bona formula had written on it : "Infant formula can be used from birth onwards when breastfeeding is not possible, or as a supplement to breastfeeding." A blatant disregard for the rules.
3. Promotion Using free supplies
In 1994 the World Health Assembly banned free supplies in all parts of the health care system. Despite this ban though Nestle continued to supply free samples, in 1998 19 of the 31 countries IBFAN surveyed showed evidence of infant formula being given to health centres, Pakistan being targeted for widespread distribution. In 1998 IBFAN’s report Feeding Fiasco even found doctors were "purchased by companies...after which the doctor or hospital is bound to recommend the company's formula." – again Nestle was a key culprit.
4. Using Humanitarian aid to create markets
The times when Humanitarian aid is needed would be the times when it is most important for mothers to breastfeed their babies. This is because, since the basic resources needed for artificial feeding – water and fuel are scarce but Nestle and other baby food companies have often, in the past used a crisis as a way of breaking into a market, most prominently with the Soviet Union which it donated large amounts of formula to – which ultimately ended up on the local market effectively destroying breastfeeding programmes.
5. Promotion to Health Professionals
The International code (articles 6.2 and 7.2) state that promotion to health professionals is banned and information provided must be limited to scientific and factual matters and any funding provided must be reported. Again Nestle have broken these rules – in August 1997 Nestle sponsored the International Nutrition Conference in Montreal, to the distaste of many members and have been involved in other events, such as organising a conference for Brazilian paediatricians in 1993.
6. Undermining the implementation of International Code
Somewhat predictably Nestle along with a number of other infant milk formula providers have been opposed to a number of measures the World Health Assembly have tried to impose. There are several of these listed on the IBFAN website but many of them involve Nestle opposing bills and laws encouraging breast feeding and restricting advertising in a number of different countries throughout the world, a number of such issues I covered in the extent of Nestles corruption section.
7. Cause related marketing
Cause related marketing is when a company sponsors good causes to divert the attention from its malpractice and is something Nestle has become increasingly involved it. Due to its aggressive marketing strategy with baby milk it was suggested by Public relations firm Saatchi and Saatchi that Nestle should promote money they give to good cause to help the companies image. A number of charities do except money from Nestle – which is fair enough as any contributions are a good thing but it’s the deliberate attempt to divert attention from Nestles malpractice that makes the issue a concern and more recently charity commissioners have advised against accepting contributions. It’s a case of the devil offering a thousand good policies to allow in one bad.
All of these accusations alone do seem to add up to be a little unsubstantiated and, to be honest it doesn’t surprise me that a multinational company is bending the laws to work In their favour, its just what they do. However since it is the lives of mothers and their newborn children that are being threatened you would expect any company to err on the side of caution, maybe not to give it up but at least to except that pushing the product may not be in their own best interest as far as their image is concerned and, lets face it Nestle have masses of other products they may fall back on. To make the situation worse, though knowing they are putting lives at stake, the Management at Nestle will still sit down in a meeting and discuss how they can make more people use their product, something that is completely unacceptable.
------The Extent of Nestles corruption.------
There are so many unethical things Nestle do which add up to make a nasty picture, the baby milk side is only the start but that is the subject that is easy to feel strongly about. There is a timeline of happenings where time and time again Nestle come up against different groups such as the World Health Organisation who challenge them and there misdoings and they will still keep pushing the ethical barriers back to the extent that they employ people to do just this.
In 1980 the then Nestle vice president wrote to the company’s general manager:
"In view of the overall propaganda campaign now being mounted through IBFAN [International Baby Food Action Network] and the professionalism of the forces involved, it is always possible that we could even win a battle in the US and lose the war as a result of determined pressure on Third World governments and medical authorities. It is clear that we have an urgent need to develop an effective counter-propaganda operation, with a network of appropriate consultants in key centres, knowledgeable in the technicalities of infant nutrition in developing countries, and with the appropriate contacts to get articles placed".
This lead to the appointment of an experiaenced PR executive Mr Raphael Pagan Jr as president of Nestles new Coordination Centre for nutrition. Pagan however described it as a ‘Crisis management task force’. It was Pagan who devised Nestles future strategy for dealing with the ‘international regulatory mood’, a strategy that included organizing and affiliating with all manner of different Nutritional and food organisations and promoting the good nature of Nestles organisation. It is a public relations exercise that continues to corrupt and take advantage of all manner of legal loopholes to promote Nestles potentially baby killing product.
Nestles corruption can be traced back far before Pagan though. Since 1939 when Cecily Williams of the Singapore rotary club said that the provision of breast milk could be construed as murder there has been an a awareness from both the company and its opponents of the problems of providing baby milk. It was in 1974 that the legal side of the argument really came into play. That year The Bern Third World action group (AgDW) published work in Switzerland entitled Nestle Kill Babies and were, somewhat predictably sued for it. Nestle fort this legal battle for 2 years until AgDW were finally found guilty for libel and fined – though at the same time Nestle were warned to change its marketing practices. Further pressure was put on Nestle with the start of the the boycott on them launched in the US in 1977. In 1979 UNICEF hosted an international meeting on infant and young children feeding and called for an international code of practice for feeding young children and The International Baby Food Network(IBFAN) developed from this meeting. Nestle however, in a testimony at the US senate stated they would not adhere to the guidelines and continued to fight the group dishobeying the new international code even though it was adopted by a number of coutries and backed by the European parliament. In 1984 Nestle finally bowed to pressure and agreed they would adhere to the code in develooping countries, ending the boycott until 1988 – when Nestle, worried by the more stringent guidelines and growing concern for infant health resumed its disobediance. Since this time further laws and regulations have been implemented at the same rate as Nestles disregaurd for them grew – to the extent that Nestle actually started suing other baby milk companies in the US in 1993 for adhering to these rules and backing them. The battle between IBFAN and Nestle continues to this day.
------So What can YOU do about it?------
The pretty simple answer is (far from working for them) to boycott Nestle. You can find out a lot more about the Boycott Nestle movment on the Baby Milk Action website www.babymilkaction.org. They give information on petitions, leaflets and action groups but more importantly they also supply a list of all Nestles products. In the simplest sense the easiest way to show any dissaproval of what Nestle are doing is to not by there products, the biggest one in this country being Nescafe.
Here is a full list of all of Nestles produce (from www.infactcanada.ca/Nestle_Boycott_Products.htm):
Water: Nestlé PURE LIFE, Nestlé Aquarel, Perrier, Evian, Montclair, Vittel, Contrex, S. Pellegrino, Acqua Panna, Levissima, Vera, Viladrau, Arrowhead, Poland Spring, Santa Maria, La Vie, Deer Park, Al Manhal, Ozarka, Hepar, Aberfoyle.
Other Beverages: Nestea, Nesquik, Nescau, Milo, Carnation, Libby's, Caro.
Food Services and Professional Products: Chef, Davigel, Minor's, Santa Rica.
Pet Care: Friskies, Fancy Feast, Alpo, Mighty Dog ,Gourmet, Mon Petit, Felix, Purina Dog Chow, Pro Plan, ONE, Beneful, Tidy Cats.
Pharmaceutical Products: Alcon, Galderma.
Cosmetics: L'Oreal, Laboratoires Innéov, Maybelline, Garnier, Lancome, Biotherm, Ralph, Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Guy Laroche, Matrix, Redken.
The boycott Nestle movement is always growing and hopefully soon it will get to the extent that it is no longer profitable for Nestle to keep pushing its milk formula- a market worth $8 billion a year- meaning to it being offered only as a stand-in for mothers who wish to use it as a substitute for breast-feeding when fully informed of the issues. I realise that a number of the items on the list are pretty tasty, I especially miss Milky bars but it surely is a small price to pay. It is in effect an easy form of multi national corruption protest where you don’t actually have to do anything. Having said all that it is pretty safe to say I’m not advising anyone, purchase products from them or to work for them, more to sit outside there Nestle holdings office in Croydon on a sunny afternoon and just shout some occasional abuse. As you do.
Brilliant review there, gets an E from me. Very informative. I think the off topic ratings were unfair.
rosillew 19.03.2005 01:37
I think Nestles own many more companies too, the nestles factory near me made all Cross & Blackwell and Chef products, Nestles also own Chambourcy, Libby's, Carnation, Pedigreee, a couple of wine companies, sarsons vinegar, prices candles, a Marzipan company? and more recently they bought out Nabisco (of Welwyn) which is the next biggest cereal manurfacturer after kellogs , and I understand that Nabisco had already bought Rowntree Macintosh, so I guess Nestle own them too! A good review, but I think the way Nestles are going, if we stop buying everything to do with them, we won't have much choice left. nestle own every evaporated milk company, and make all the shops own brands of it too, I can't remember if Findus was on your list I am 99% certain they own Findus as well. Heatherx
Averilla 16.03.2005 15:30
You have made wsome excellent and valid points there, brilliant review, gets my 'E'. Av xx