The UK-based group, Baby Milk Action (BMA), added to ongoing criticism of the food giant’s breast milk alternative marketing methods after it launched a new range of products on the Swiss market aimed at infants between the ages of six months and three years.
BMA questioned whether the coffee machine-style range, BabyNes, marketed itself in such a way that it contravened the World Health Organization International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes that sanctifies the idea that ‘breast is best’ when it comes to early infant nutrition.
“Nestlé is claiming in its announcement to respect the World Health Assembly marketing requirements for breastmilk substitutes, yet at the very same time violating it by press releasing magazines which go out to the public,” said BMA’s Patti Rundall.
Responding, Nestlé senior corporate spokesperson Melanie Kohli told NutraIngredients.com the products complied with the Code and other national and regional guidelines, as did all its products.
“We take all allegations of non-compliance with the WHO Code seriously and investigate, respond to, and report on allegations we receive,” Kohli said.
“We support exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of an infant’s life, in line with WHO recommendations, and continued breastfeeding thereafter for as long as possible. For babies who are not breastfed, Nestlé provides high-quality breast milk substitutes, such as BabyNes.”
“The statement, ‘WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. Nestlé fully supports this and continued breast feeding, along with the introduction of complementary foods as advised by your doctor', is featured on all our infant formula products, including on the BabyNes machine box and BabyNes capsules.”
“We have the industry’s toughest system in place to enforce WHO Code compliance. Indeed, we are the only infant formula manufacturer listed by FTSE4Good, the London Stock Exchange’s Ethical Index.”
Kohli said the company had paid close attention to recent reports from the International Baby Food Action Network.
“The majority of their concerns related to lower-risk developed countries in which governments have adopted their own policy, regulations or other measures concerning the sale of breast-milk substitutes. Nestlé strictly follows national legislation in these developed countries. Other concerns covered products that do not fall under the scope of the WHO Code or related to factual information about infant nutrition products that companies are allowed to provide to health care professionals.”
On concerns about the 240CHF (€195) price tag for the machine, Kohli observed BabyNes, “is the first comprehensive nutrition system for babies up to the age of three, it is a premium product available in Switzerland at a premium price point.”
In a follow-up statement BMA said: “Nestlé is embarking on a new violation of World Health Assembly marketing requirements for breastmilk substitutes after refusing earlier this month to stop the vast majority of violations in the latest global monitoring report, presented in Geneva.”