Infant Feeding in the Developing World
Breastfeeding is best for babies. ChemistHenri Nestlé stated this in his Treatise onNutrition soon after founding our company in1867, and it is still true today.The Nestlé Company began when HenriNestlé invented a milk and cereal food thatsaved the life of a neighbour’s baby whocould not be breastfed. Today, infant formulamakes up about 2% of Nestlé’s sales but,for about the first 40 years of the company’slife, it was our principal product. It is still aproduct that saves the lives of untoldnumbers of babies around the world everyday.It became apparent in the 1970s that infantformula (often referred to as ‘babymilk’) is aproduct that deserves special treatment interms of marketing in situations wheresanitary conditions could result in its misuse.The concern arose at the time that advertisingor promotion of infant formula to the publiccould lead to unsafe use by women who didnot have access to clean water and who over-diluted the formula in an effort to save money.As access to communications became morewidespread among populations in developingcountries, itbecame clear that the promotionof infant formula to the public was reachingsuch mothers, and that such promotionshould be stopped.As a result, Nestlé stopped advertising andpromotion to the public in these countries inthe late 1970s, and the International Code ofMarketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, draftedby the World Health Organisation, was passedas a complete set of recommendations togovernments in 1981. Itlists theresponsibilities of health care systems, healthcare professionals and companies in regardto the promotion of breast-milk substitutesand the provision of information concerningits proper use.Having learned the lessons of the 1970s,Nestlé was the first company to voluntarilyimplement the Code throughout thedeveloping world in 1982, and we developedspecific instructions to our staff on how to dothis. These instructions were reviewed andrefined in 1984 in consultation with the WHOand other UN agencies.Our policy and practice in developingcountries since that time has meant no publicpromotion, including no advertising, no in-store promotions, no advertising leaflets, no‘milk nurses’, no samples to mothers, and avery restrictive policy on free formula forevaluation by health professionals. We leavecommunication to mothers about infantformula in developing countries completely upto health professionals. In developedcountries, we follow national regulationsimplementing the International Code,including the EU Commission Directive ofMay 1991, which implemented the Codewithin the EU.We also carry out annual audits on WHOCode compliance with a sample of Nestlécompanies, and we investigate anysubstantiated claims made by those whobelieve we have broken the Code.Many of these we find to be inaccurate but,in a company of over 225,000 individuals,
Nestlé South Africa
Pindelwa Mda is from Umtata inthe Eastern Cape in South Africa.She studied in Johannesburg andhas worked for Nestlé since 1994,in South Africa,Ghana andSwitzerland.She is the mother of a10 year-old son and is currentlyinfant food marketing manager forthe Southern Africa region.
Nestlé Sri Lanka and Nestlé UK
Beverley Mirando has worked inNestlé Lanka since 1990,as LegalOfficer and Company Secretary.Since 1999,she has been onsecondment to Nestlé UK,working in corporate affairs.Sheis the mother of two teenagedaughters.
Marisa Armada is marketingmanager for the infantnutrition unit of NestléMexico.She has worked forNestlé for over four years,having graduated inBiochemistry and FoodProcessing Engineering.
Three Nestlé managers fromAfrica,Asia and Latin Americahave contributed their ownthoughts and comments to this document.
mistakes can be made. If we find that theCode has been deliberately violated, we takedisciplinary action.As CEO, I personally review any reports ofCode violation discovered either in our auditsin the developing world or through reportsfrom other organisations, and I make sure theappropriate action is taken.I hope this booklet provides a deeperunderstanding of the realities of infantfeeding in the developing world and ofNestlé’s marketing activities.We are committed to ensuring that the bestinterests of mothers and babies are servedby our employees around the world, threeofwhom have contributed to the writing ofthis booklet.
Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé