At the World Economic Forum in Davros this year Nestle – "Good food good life" recieved 29% of the vote for the "world’s least responsible company" twice as much as the next on the list Monsanto. Nestle’s irresponsbility dates back as far as the 1960s and 1970s to which the company admits to malpractice
Today NestlÃ© admits to malpractice in the 1960s and 1970s, though it hasn’t apologised to the families who lost infants during this period or offered any form of compensation.
The company has a new report on Africa "The Nestle Committment to Africa" in which it outlines its historical link with the continent (it first sold condensed milk in South Africa in the 1880s) and I am sure most Africans are familiar with Nido and Carnation milk products and of course the "I can’t cook without MAGGI" which has been around ever since my childhood. However according to IBAN (International Baby Food Action Network) Nestle is still violating the international code in its aggressive marketing of baby foods.
The aim of the International Code is to contribute to the safe and adequate nutrition for infants by the protection of breastfeeding. If the International Code were to achieve this aim, commercial baby milks and foods would be sold only to those who really need them. Endeavours by companies to circumvent the provisions of the International Code and to interpret
the International Code narrowly are therefore common.
For example in its pamphlet promoting Pelagron Infant Formula, Nestle claims that it counteracts diarrhoea and its side effects.
"this is highly misleading as with all formulas, infants fed on Pelargon are at greater risk of becomming ill and possibly dying as a result of diarrhoea than breastfed infants."
Other violations include advertising for mothers and mothers to be to attend baby feeding seminars in local supermarkets. Direct contact with mothers of children under 3 is phrobited by the International Code. The difference between the International Code and Nestle’s own code can be seen on the BabyMilkAction website. Nestle has also entered the HIV/AIDS market by promoting the use of its special infant formula for use by mothers with HIV.
This is playing on the fears of a very vulnerable group of women who are afraid for their babies and want to do what is best for them. The choice to breastfeed or bottlefeed in the case of hiv is even more complex and a decision that needs to be made by the mother with the advice of impartial health workers, not by a multinational with a vested interest.
NestlÃ© set up a Nutrition Institute with the expressed goal of promoting infant formula for use in cases of HIV infection. The Institute is offering training courses, gifts, lunches and promises of academic credits for health workers. It has irresponsibly promoted its Pelargon infant formula used in HIV interventions in many African countries (see Botswana example on page 2) and alongside other companies has argued against advertising restrictions in South Africa, claiming advertising provides information. Advertising is a sales tactic and not an educational tool and UNICEF has stated that HIV makes marketing regulations more important not less important.
WHOs Global Strategy for infant feeding states that risks of "HIV transmission have to be weighed against risks of sickness and death from artifical feeding and breast feeding is recommended inunsafe conditions".