The Multinational Monitor


G L O B A L   N E W S W A T C H

Nestle Announces A Change In Its Infant Formula Policies

The Nestle Corporation, the world's largest supplier of infant formula, has given ground in the dispute over its marketing of the liquid baby food. The Swiss company announced on March 16 new "comprehensive policy guidelines" for the implementation of the World Health Organization's international marketing code for breastmilk substitutes.

Acknowledging the "extensive controversy" surrounding the issue, Rafael D. Pagan, president of the Nestle Coordination Center for Nutrition in Washington said that specific company "instructions have been sent to all Nestle managers and agents" about the new Nestle policy.

Nestle will restrict its use of free samples, and educational materials, as well as altering its labels of infant formula to conform to the World Health Organization's guidelines, which prohibit aggressive promotion of the product.

The Nestle announcement suggests that the company was aware that it may have been violating the international code, although a company spokesperson would not confirm this last month. However, at a meeting between Nestle officials and UNICEF representatives in New York in late February, Nestle "admitted" that the 'company had "room for considerable improvement" in its marketing practices, Lucille Mair, who chairs the UNICEF task force on breast feeding, told Multinational Monitor.

In addition to the violations the Zimbabwe government has charged Nestle with committing (see p. 5), a recent report by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility claims that the company has broken the WHO code in the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Mexico, Philippines, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Kenya, Mozambique, India, Greece and Peru.

The Nestle policy shift met with approval from some of the company's adversaries. "We welcome" the changes, said Doug Johnson, director of the Minneapolis-based Infant Formula Action Coalition,. which has spearheaded an international boycott of Nestle. "It's a victory for the campaign" to change Nestle's practices, he said.

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