Nestlé follows the highest standards when marketing breastmilk substitutes (BMS) and welcomes external scrutiny of our practices, such as Save the Children’s ‘Don’t Push It’ report.
We have a global commitment to support breastfeeding as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and to protect it through our industry-leading policy (pdf, 3 Mb) to market breastmilk substitutes (BMS) responsibly. We respect national laws by complying with the WHO Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes as implemented by national governments.
How will Nestlé address cases of non-compliance with the WHO Code?
Save the Children mentions numerous allegations of incidents of non-compliance. In order for Nestlé to take immediate action and effectively address any verified incidences of non-compliance, we are asking Save the Children and all concerned stakeholders to share copies of the assessments conducted at country level with us directly or through our corporate compliance reporting system Tell Us.
We take these allegations very seriously and will investigate all concerns. Our employees know that we will take fast and decisive action if any wrongdoing is found. We are confident we have robust systems in place to market BMS responsibly and we transparently report on our progress in our Annual Report (pdf, 10 Mb) and on our website in Breast-milk substitute marketing: compliance record.
What safeguards do you have to ensure responsible BMS marketing?
Our policy on the marketing of BMS applies to the entire Nestlé Group and is mandatory for all Nestlé employees and third parties acting under Nestlé’s authorisation. To reinforce this, we regularly train employees and distributors on Code compliance. We have also incorporated Code compliance into our governance structures and it is subject to board level oversight.
Moreover, our policy follows the FTSE4Good Index criteria on BMS marketing, which prioritise 152 countries where there is the greatest risk of malnutrition and infant mortality to infants and young children. Nestlé was the first manufacturer of breastmilk substitutes to apply the Index’s strict 104 BMS criteria for BMS marketing. As recognised in the 'Don't push it' report, the inclusion of more key industry players in addition to Nestlé and Danone in FTSE4Good could transform the sector and create a new baseline standard for discussions.
What role does infant formula have to play?
We strongly support breastfeeding given the fundamental part this plays in the growth and development of babies during their first 1000 days. For mothers who cannot or choose not to breastfeed, infant formula is the only suitable breastmilk substitute. Save the Children’s report acknowledges the positive role infant formula can play in providing adequate nutrition when breastfeeding is not possible.
We agree that current breastfeeding rates are still insufficient. As the Save the Children report states, there are numerous social and economic factors influencing infant formula usage worldwide that are not due to the actions of manufacturers alone. An important element not mentioned in the report, that we believe is key to improving infant nutrition, is the need to pay more attention to inappropriate foods fed to some infants in the first six months, when they are neither breastfed nor formula fed.
Whilst Nestlé actively seeks to make formula as close to breastmilk as scientifically possible, we reject any suggestion that we claim infant formula is equal to or better than breastmilk. We aim to offer infants the best possible start in life through our support for breastfeeding, scientific research, responsible marketing practices and commitment to providing safe and nutritious products.
We reiterate our readiness to work with civil society, the public sector and other concerned stakeholders to improve the health and nutrition of women and children.
What is Nestlé’s response to the ATNI report on BMS marketing in Thailand?
Save the Children’s report refers to the The Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI), which recently assessed industry and retailer compliance with local marketing regulations and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Code of Marketing of BMS’s in Thailand. We follow the highest standards for BMS marketing, and welcome such external assessments of our practices. Such scrutiny is particularly important in such high-risk countries.
In Thailand, ATNI assessed BMS marketing practices of a wide range of companies, including retailers. ATNI extended the scope of its assessment to 24 months. However, this evaluation did not recognise the same scope as Thai law, which only applies to infant and follow-on formula for infants up to 12 months old. This is in line with FTSE4Good criteria for high-risk markets and Nestlé’s practices in the country.
Having reviewed the report, we noticed that over 90% of the non-compliant activities found relate to the practices of online or traditional retailers with whom manufacturers, such as Nestlé, have little or no contractual relationships.
We are engaging with ATNI to identify which instances of non-compliance are within our control so we can take action to address them. Irrespective of the findings for individual manufacturers, the report raises important points all relevant stakeholders should tackle. We look forward to contributing to this process.
Read more about our compliance record, including the Bureau Veritas Assurance Statements
Read more about our responsible infant food policies
Read more about FTSE4Good
Read more about the Nestlé boycott
Report compliance concerns via Tell us
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