The Multinational Monitor


G L O B A L   N E W S W A T C H

Nestle Claiming New Reforms

The Nestle corporation, still facing a worldwide consumer boycott for its marketing of infant formula in the Third World, has stepped up its policy efforts - or at least its public relations tactics - to come clean.

"Nestle has demonstrated a willingness to respond positively to the imperative of change in its marketing policies," said former Senator and former secretary of state Edmund Muskie at a Nestle press conference on October 14. Muskie has accepted the role of chairman of Nestle's Infant Formula Audit Commission, which the Swiss-based company established in March to see that Nestle complied with regulations of the World Health Organization.

Nestle "has responded positively to the public interest as stated in the WHO Code," Muskie said. But under questioning, he added that "We can not give a clean bill of health (to Nestle) in the field, because we do not monitor the field."

One group that does monitor Nestle's in the Third World is the Infant Formula Action Coalition, INFACT.

The same day of the Nestle press conference, INFACT announced that it had found 30 specific violations by Nestle of the WHO Code. The violations, which were observed in eight countries, include: free sample distribution, inadequate labels and information, promotion in hospitals to mothers, and industry lobbying against government legislation.

At the Nestle press conference, the company announced that it was issuing revised instructions to its field staff, updating those it issued in March (See MM, July 1982). The Revised' Instructions require Nestle employees to:

  • discourage retailers from promoting infant formula at any point-of-sale;
  • apply the Code to infant formula products for use by children of any age;
  • not employ mothercraft nurses;
  • provide free or reduced-cost supplies of infant formula only to those children who cannot breastfeed;
  • not routinely provide samples of infant formula to health workers for use with their own children; and
  • not advertise or promote, directly or indirectly, infant formula to mothers, pregnant women or the general public.

Douglas Johnson, National Chairperson of INFACT, said that the announcement ". . . provides some significant changes in Nestle policy that make us very happy; but the new instructions are not the Code itself, and are inadequate to protect the health and lives of children in developing nations."

- Ron Millar

Table of Contents