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How Nestlé supports breastfeeding

mother with baby

 

Nestlé’s believes that breastmilk is the ideal nutrition for babies. That’s why we support and promote the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. After this, parents or caregivers should introduce nutritious complementary foods, alongside sustained breastfeeding for up to two years and beyond.

We use the phrase ‘breastfeeding is best’ wherever possible on packaging and in other communications and develop educational materials for healthcare professionals and parents on the benefits of breastfeeding. Nestlé runs campaigns and seminars on breastfeeding for the medical community in partnership with governments and medical institutions.

Where mothers cannot or choose not to breastfeed, infant formula is the only suitable breastfeeding substitute that the WHO recognizes as appropriate. Nestlé has a global commitment to support and protect breastfeeding by implementing our policy on responsible breastmilk substitute BMS marketing.

As a minimum, Nestlé complies with the WHO Code and later WHA Resolutions as implemented by national governments worldwide. We voluntarily apply our own policy when it is stricter than national regulations in 152 countries considered ‘higher risk’ in terms of infant mortality and malnutrition. In these countries, we also specify that children should only be fed complementary foods from six months.

Nestlé also has robust compliance measures and mechanisms, including a network of internal WHO Code Ombudspersons. We are proud to be the first BMS manufacturer included in the FTSE4Good Index and have consistently achieved its rigorous criteria for responsible BMS marketing since 2011.

In 2018, Nestlé ranked second in the 2018 Global Access to Nutrition Index’s sub-ranking of BMS manufacturers. We report transparently on our progress in our annual report and on our corporate website, and encourage stakeholders to share any concerns they may have on our BMS marketing practices through our ‘Tell Us’ system.

Nestlé investigates all concerns raised, and quickly addresses any instances of non-compliance reported to us.

John Hopkins Peru study

We would like to talk with authors of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study on BMS marketing practices in Peru, to better understand the details of their study and give information on our policies and practices. The authors did not contact Nestlé before publishing their study.

In Peru, Nestlé fully complies with local legislation (Supreme Decret 009-2006-SA). This allows us to share evidence-based scientific information exclusively with healthcare professionals, and support their continuing medical education. We do not distribute product samples intended for babies aged 0-2 years to healthcare professionals or mothers.

Changing Markets Foundation report – Nestlé’s response

We invited CMF to discuss its 2018 ‘Busting the Myth report’ on Nestlé’s commitment to infant nutrition science with us, to allow us to clarify some of the inaccuracies in the findings.

Where mothers cannot, or chose not, to breastfeed, infant formula is the only suitable breast-milk substitute. CMF recognizes the vital role that infant formula plays in such cases, and we welcome this.

We agree that formula manufacturers have a responsibility to provide products that are safe and as nutritionally complete as possible, backed by the best science. 600 Nestlé researchers are working to this end, in partnership with academic organizations.

CMF criticizes on pack statements in the U.S., Hong Kong, Switzerland and Spain, but these comply with local regulatory requirements. We do not use any statements on infant formula products or in other communications that idealize such products, or imply they are superior or equivalent to breastmilk.

Modern formulas are compositionally closer to human milk, so we do state that their ingredients are ‘inspired by breastmilk’ or contain components that are comparable to those in breastmilk – like proteins or human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), when this is scientifically proven.

This does not breach the WHO Code as implemented by national governments or our own stringent policy when it is stricter than the national code.

Ingredients are another focus of the CMF report. Here CODEX standards and local regulations (which may vary from country to country) determine the essential ingredients needed in infant formula. All our products meet these requirements.

Contrary to what the report states, we do not use sucrose in any infant products (0-6 months), and voluntarily removed sucrose from all other follow-on formulas (6-12 months) by the end of 2018.

Vanilla flavoring is safe and permitted for infants above 6 months of age, according to CODEX. It is present in a very limited number of products for this age range, and is not in our infant formula products in South Africa. We are voluntarily removing such flavorings from the few products that still contain them.

CMF’s follow-up 2019 report ‘Busting the Myth’ made many of the same arguments.

We do not idealize our products or imply they are superior or equivalent to breastmilk. However, modern formulas are compositionally closer to human milk than cow’s milk, for example. As such, we say that our products are ‘inspired by breastmilk’.

Hong Kong law allows promotional activities for growing-up milks (criticized in the report) and our own policy on BMS marketing. Finally, many factors determine the local pricing of Nestlé products – including import duties, local taxes, production costs and distribution and trade margins.

Infant nutition

View how research guides our foods for infant and young children.

infographic

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Our actions

Breastfeeding is best
Breastfeeding is best
We firmly believe that breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants. In line with the World Health Organization’s recommendation, we promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by the introduction of nutritious and appropriate complementary foods along with sustained breastfeeding up to two years of age and beyond.
The first 1,000 days
The first 1,000 days
For children to grow up healthy and develop to their full potential, it is crucial that they get good nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life - from the moment they are conceived up to their second birthday. We contribute to the good health and nutrition of mothers and their children during this critical period through our scientific research, high-quality products, educational programmes, and services for health professionals.
Nutritious complementary foods
Nutritious complementary foods
Starting at six months of age, the introduction of nutritious complementary foods is important to meet the growing needs of babies. In some parts of the world, children’s diets are low in key nutrients. Using our expertise in micronutrient fortification, we have developed a range of affordable fortified infant cereals to contribute to a nutritious diet for children. Link: www.nestle.com/csv/impact/tastier-healthier/micronutrient-fortification
Supporting health professionals
Supporting health professionals
We support health professionals as they provide parents with objective nutrition advice for infants and young children. The Nestlé Nutrition Institute (NNI) provides scientific workshops and continued professional education. As the world’s largest private publisher of nutrition information, it is also a widely recognised source of some of the most up-to-date findings about breastfeeding and nutrition for mothers, infants and young children. Link: www.nestlenutrition-institute.org
Supporting working mothers
Supporting working mothers
We also actively encourage breastfeeding in our own facilities. Our Maternity Protection Policy (pdf document) allows female employees to take up to six months’ maternity leave. In addition to enabling flexible working time and breastfeeding breaks, the policy also promotes a conducive environment to breastfeed, which includes a network of more than 302 breastfeeding sites in our workplaces around the world.
Responsible marketing
Responsible marketing
We have learned a great deal from our experiences, and we recognise our responsibility to go beyond what were common marketing standards in the past. Every day, we strive to further improve our practices and our policies to support optimal nutrition for children.
Stringent policy and procedures
Stringent policy and procedures
We have the industry’s strictest policies and procedures in place to ensure that we market breast milk substitutes responsibly. This includes a global policy on the marketing of breast milk substitutes, training of all our employees who work in infant nutrition, regular internal and external audits of our practices, and implementation of whistleblowing and reporting procedures. We are committed to continuously improving our practices in this area. We are currently working hard to help our distributors and retailers to commercialise our products responsibly and in line with our policies. Link: www.nestle.com/csv/performance/compliance-record
Recognised Industry leader
Recognised Industry leader
Nestlé is ranked first in the 2018 Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) released today for its overall performance in its nutrition-related commitments. This confirms Nestlé’s leadership in nutrition, health and wellness as well as our contribution to tackling the global challenges of obesity and undernutrition. Nestlé also ranks second for its marketing of breast milk substitutes. This reflects Nestlé’s commitment to policies, practices and compliance with the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes. ATNI said that Nestlé’s "overall nutrition governance and management systems are comprehensive, well-structured, transparent and applied globally with a clear accountability structure". Read more: www.nestle.com/media/pressreleases/allpressreleases/nestl...
Doing business responsibly
Doing business responsibly
We are proud to have been the first Breastmilk Substitutes (BMS) manufacturer included in FTSE4Good Index and to have consistently met its 104 rigorous criteria for the responsible marketing of BMS since 2011. Link: www.nestle.com/aboutus/ask-nestle/answers/what-is-ftse4good
Constructive collaboration
Constructive collaboration
Through our annual stakeholder convenings and Creating Shared Value Forum, we engage in constructive dialogue with different NGOs and interest groups on the topic of maternal, infant and young child nutrition. We are ready to work constructively with all concerned stakeholders towards our aim to contribute to the optimal health and nutrition of mothers, infants and young children. Link: www.nestle.com/csv/what-is-csv/stakeholder-engagement

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