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Patti Rundall, of Baby Food Action Network
"The concern is that the companies are batantly systematically continuing to promote products at the risk of infant health"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
'Putting profit before child health'
Baby being fed powdered milk
Breast milk is widely considered best for babies
Pressure has been stepped up on firms to stop promoting powdered baby milk to new mums.

International Baby Food Action Network said the powdered formula could be responsible for the deaths of many thousands of babies who miss out on immunities passed on through breast milk.

And that firms are regularly flouting strict guidelines in a bid to boost their products.

All 16 baby milk manufacturers surveyed broke the guidelines and Nestlé were singled out as the worst offender.


The companies are blatantly, systematically continuing to promote products at the risk of infants' health

Patti Rundall, of the International Baby Food Action Network

Health experts throughout the world tend to agree that breast feeding is safer than using powdered milk, because it helps build up the child's immune system.

Risks

But the Baby Food Action Network (BFAN) warn that powdered milk can easily be contaminated by dirty water.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) two decades ago set up a code for the manufacturers of powdered milk, insisting that they must not provide free samples of their product to new mothers or hospitals.

Nor are they allowed to idealise the use of powdered milk in advertising.

Patti Rundall, of the BFAN, said: "The companies are blatantly, systematically continuing to promote products at the risk of infants' health.

"And they know exactly what they should do and yet they're pretending it's very clear and that they need to sit down and talk to people and discuss it and everything."

Nestlé's American subsidiary was criticised for its "New Mom Makeover" campaign - which used free powdered milk as prizes as a means of building up a mailing list for direct marketing.

Niels Christiansen, of Nestlé said the American promotion had now been stopped and that they were backing the code.

He said: "We have promoted the implementation of the code in the entire world.

"Nestlé is in fact the world's largest buyer of the WHO code and the world's largest distributor of it to governments, health professionals and health institutions, to explain to them what the WHO code asks of companies, of health professionals and of health systems."

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See also:

23 Feb 01 | Business
Nestle's profits surge
16 Jan 01 | Business
Nestle in $10.3bn pet food buy
13 May 01 | Health
TV 'deters breast feeding'
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