By Laura Villadiego
A year later, the report The Baby Killer, by the NGO War On Want, denounced the practices of the multinational, and the sensitization led to a worldwide boycott from 1977. It was not, however, a new publicity, since it had been used since the late nineteenth century to encourage mothers either to stop breastfeeding their children or to supplement their supposedly insufficient flow with their artificial milk. One of the first complaints was made by Dr. Cecily Williams in 1939, who linked artificial milk to the death of babies.
Following the boycott, Nestlé pledged to comply with the code of good practice approved by the World Trade Organization and by UNICEF, which prohibited advertising of prepared milk and marketing through free samples to mothers, among others. measurements.
However, neither Nestlé, nor many other brands that produce infant milk, respect the terms of this agreement and continue to advertise these products and bribe hospital personnel in developing countries to convince mothers that prepared milk is better. than natural. The latest case occurred a few weeks ago, with the sanction of 13 doctors and nurses in China for receiving money from Danone to recommend their powdered milk.
In fact, after decades of criticism of Nestlé, it is Danone who is now in the spotlight for its bad practices. Thus, the English newspaper The Independent reported on Danone's aggressive campaign in Turkey that tried to convince mothers that after six months they do not produce enough milk to feed the baby and that it must be supplemented with artificial milk. Save the Children gave a good summary of Danone's new role and in a recent report titled the section on the French multinational: “A new offender in the neighborhood?
Laos has been one of the countries most affected in recent times by the “fashion” for prepared baby milk. Despite being a country where babies have traditionally been breastfed for the first few years, in 2006, only 25 percent of mothers fed them only breast milk (something recommended by WHO for the first six months) . In Laos, there are frequent complaints about the presence of sales agents, sometimes disguised as nurses or doctors, in hospitals or the bribery of health personnel to offer milk to mothers. NGOs have also accused Nestlé of using the image of a bear nursing its young on the packaging of one of its brands of powdered milk (normal, not infant) or in condensed milk. Mothers in Laos, as in so many other countries in the world, end up spending unnecessary money on milk that is less nutritious just because of these marketing practices that the same companies claim they do not use.
UNICEF ensures that one and a half million children would not die if they were exclusively breastfed during the first months of life. Prepared milk also does not develop the defenses of babies in the same way as breast milk, and children thus fed are more prone to contracting diseases. Undoubtedly, an issue too serious to be put at risk just by increasing even more the bulky income statements of these multinationals.