Baby food companies to be exposed as international monitors present evidence at UK Parliament

Members of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) will be presenting evidence gathered through monitoring of baby food companies in 69 countries at the House of Commons on 13 May from 10.30 to 11.30 am. The evidence shows how companies aggressively promote their products and undermine breastfeeding, thereby contributing to the unnecessary death and suffering of infants around the world.

The meeting in the Jubilee Room is being hosted by Lynne Jones MP who is tabling an Early Day Motion (a petition for Members of Parliament) calling for the UK Government to support action to end baby food marketing malpractice in the UK and in other countries.

The IBFANers 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 meeting takes place during UK National Breastfeeding Awareness week and as the UK Department of Health issues survey results showing 34% of UK mothers incorrectly believe that infant formula is very similar or the same as breastmilk (see DoH press release: Myths stop women giving babies the best start in life). Monitoring shows companies promote this message as they systematically violate the Code and Resolutions in the UK and in many other countries. The European Union is currently revising its directive on the marketing of baby foods and Members of Parliament are calling for this and the UK Law to be brought into line with the Code and Resolutions.

Globally, Swiss-based Nestlé is again found to be responsible for more violations than any other company. Because of this, and its leading role in opposing full implementation of the Code and Resolutions at national and international level, Nestlé is the target of a boycott in 20 countries. There will be a demonstration at Nestlé UK HQ in Croydon on the 15 May, 11.00-12.00 (click here for details).

Annelies Allain, Director of IBFAN's International Code Documentation Centre, said:

³IBFAN is often asked whether it is not frustrating to do Code monitoring and keep on finding violations? Yes it is, but without watchdogs the Code would be a mere piece of paper. The network also knows that it does make a difference, a big difference. It allows action. Where there are no laws, or where laws are not enforced, independent monitoring is the only way of putting pressure on companies to behave, the only way of teaching consumers about new tactics, of informing health professionals about the latest propaganda. If there were no independent monitoring, companies would not need to look over their shoulders and promotion would be much worse.²

The full 94-page report, an overview and summary reports on marketing practices in various countries will be available at the meeting and shortly afterward on the IBFAN website.

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

E-mail: [email protected],





The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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