Cameroon group launches
Nestlé boycott -
More UK pop stars dump Nestlé
27 January 2001
Nestlé is coming under
renewed pressure to end its aggressive promotion of breastmilk
substitutes as an African group launches a boycott of its products,
such as Nescafé coffee. Meanwhile in the UK more pop stars have
blocked the use of their songs by Nestlé in a promotion for the
V2001 musical festival or television advertisements.
The New Musical Express
(dated 28th January - but available now) reports that Ocean
Colour Scene and Shed 7 have joined Pulp, Dodgy
and Ian Brown in taking action in support of health campaigners
who are calling for Nestlé to bring their baby food activities
into line with the marketing standards adopted by the World Health
Assembly. According to UNICEF reversing the decline in breastfeeding
could save the lives of 1.5 million infants around the world every
year. The European Parliament investigated Nestlé in a Public
Hearing last year (22nd November), but Nestlé refused to send
Organisation Cameroon Link decided to launch the boycott
to protest about Nestlé's promotion of breastmilk substitutes
in health facilities in Cameroon and marketing malpractice around
the world. Nestlé is reportedly promoting Guigoz and Nan
infant formula in health centres with film shows. Today Cameroon
Link has been accepted as a member of the International Nestlé
Boycott Committee (INBC), Baby Milk Action announces at its AGM
in Cambridge. Baby Milk Action acts as the secretariat for INBC.
Cameroon becomes the 20th country where nationals have launched
the boycott and the first in Africa.
President of Cameroon Link, said: "If every Cameroonian joins
in this boycott, it may act as a powerful tool which may very
quickly bring changes to the marketing in Cameroon. This action
is a world wide action and Cameroon is not an exception as far
as violations of the International
Code and Resolutions are concerned."
Mike Brady, Campaigns
and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said: "I implore
journalists and campaigners from around the world to take an interest
in this issue. When Nestlé malpractice is exposed we are often
able to bring about change. Acting locally really does have a
For further information
contact: Mike Brady,
Campaigns and Networking Coordinator, Baby Milk Action, 23 St.
Andrew's Street, Cambridge, CB2 3AX. Tel: 01223 464420. Mobile:
Latest media coverage:
27 January 2001
Notes for editors
- For further information
and for pictures for publication see the "codewatch" and "resources"
sections. For information on the International Baby Food Action
Network (IBFAN) visit www.ibfan.org
- The International
Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was adopted
by the World Health Assembly in 1981 as a "minimum requirement"
to be implemented by Member States "in its entirety." Subsequent
Resolutions have addressed questions of interpretation and changes
in marketing practices and scientific knowledge. Where water
is unsafe an artificially-fed child is up to 25 times more likely
to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child. The
cost of formula can lead to parents overdiluting formula, leading
- Cameroon brings
the total of boycott countries to 20: Australia, Bulgaria, Cameroon,
Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,
Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,
Turkey, UK and USA. Nestlé is targeted because monitoring finds
it to be responsible for more violations of the International
Code and Resolutions than any other company and because it takes
the lead in attempting to undermine government implementation
of these measures.
- In May 1999 the
Advertising Standards Authority upheld all of Baby Milk Action's
complaints against a Nestlé anti-boycott advertisement in which
the company claimed to market infant formula "ethically and
responsibly." (see press release).
In 1995 Baby Milk Action was called on to defend claims made
in a boycott advertisement. The ASA found in favour of Baby
Milk Action. The claims were: "Over 4,000 babies die every day
in poor countries because they're not breastfed. That's not
conjecture, it's UNICEF fact" and "They [Nestlé] aggressively
promote their baby milks, breaking a World Health Organisation
code of marketing."
- Marketing Week
magazine asked Marjorie Thompson of Saatchi & Saatchi how Nestlé
should respond to the bad publicity surrounding its baby food
marketing activities and reported (11th February 1999): "She
suggests the way to counteract the bad publicity is to go on
the offensive by using advertising showing the benefits of Nestlé's
financial contributions to charities..." NCH (formerly National
Children's Homes) is one of the charities to refuse Nestlé money.
Others, such as the British Red Cross, have accepted substantial
sums and subsequently promoted Nescafé (the principal target
of the boycott) and defended Nestlé's baby food marketing activities.
- On 22nd November
2000 the European Parliament Development and Cooperation Committee
held a Public Hearing into the baby food industry. IBFAN and
UNICEF made presentations. MEPs were shocked and outraged when
Nestlé refused its invitation to make a presentation on the
monitoring process it claims to have put in place to ensure
compliance with the marketing requirements. For further information
contact Richard Howitt MEP, who arranged the Hearing, on + 32
2 284 5477 and see Baby Milk Action's press
release. Adidas was investigated at the same Hearing and
also refused to attend. On the Mark Thomas Product on Channel
4 Television this week (25th January), David Husselbee, Global
Director of Social and Environmental Affairs, Adidas, said:
"With hindsight we accept that we should have been at the
meeting in November". So far Nestlé has made no such admission.