Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nasty Nestle Strikes Again....

Okay, so Nestle is at it again, promoting their formula at an event that is in direct violation of many different codes, including WHO and UNICEF. We all need to send in an email to voice our concern. So, if you can take a moment to copy and paste the following emails, it would be greatly appreciated. Your letter does make a difference!

My participation in the boycott of Nestle is not because I am against baby formula, what I am opposed to is the sly marketing practices used by Nestle. How they provide free formula in third world countries until the mother's breast milk has dried up and the mother then has to struggle to pay for formula and provide clean, sanitary water to mix the formula with.

Below is the email I received today.

Thanks!

Dear Friends,

We need your help to stop Nestlé's plans to give a wine and dine infant feeding talk (June 12, 2008) to health professionals in Burnaby, B.C. As many of you know, Nestlé attempted a similar event in Burnaby last year, but after our letter-writing campaign, it was cancelled. Apparently they think they can get away with it this year.

The main speaker at the event is Owennie Lee, a registered dietitian. This event violates both the International Code and the College of Dietitians of British Columbia’s code of ethics.

B.C. has a 95 per cent breastfeeding rate because health workers there work hard to protect breastfeeding from the commercial pressures to artificially feed. We are asking that concerned people throughout B.C., Canada and internationally email Nestle to let them know we will not put up with marketing that violates the WHO Code.

Please email Oweenie Lee (owennie.lee@ca.nestle.com) and Catherine O’Brien at Corporate Affairs at Nestlé (Catherine.Obrien@ca.nestle.com). See INFACT Canada’s letter below or write your own.

You can also email the College of Dietitians of British Columbia at mailto:info@collegeofdietitiansbc.org. See INFACT’s letter below.

Please CC Renee Hefti-Graham, who started this campaign, so she can measure the momentum. (Renee Hefti renhefti@telus.net)

If the talk is not cancelled, a demonstration is planned on June 12, 2008.

Your email will make a difference!

Letters

********************
To: Owennie Lee, registered dietitian

Cc: Catherine O’Brien, Nestlé Corporate affairs

Dear Ms. Lee,

I’m writing to you about the upcoming Nestlé event in Burnaby called “the Infant Feeding Maze.” As you may be aware, because this is a violation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. The International Code was created in 1981 by the WHO and UNICEF to protect infant health and breastfeeding, and violating it can put infants and young children at risk.

Article 7.3 of the Code states: “No financial or material inducements to promote [infant feeding products] should be offered by manufacturers or distributors to health workers”. An expensive dinner at a downtown hotel could certainly be construed as a material inducement to win the favour of health professionals.

Resolution 49.15 of the World Health Assembly, which carries the same weight as the Code, states companies like Nestlé have a responsibility “to ensure that the financial support for professionals working in infant and young child health does not create conflicts of interest”. Clearly the sponsorship of nutrition conferences by a formula company creates a conflict of interest for health workers who attend.

This event is also a violation of the College of Dietitians of British Columbia’s Code of Ethics, which states that dietitians must “avoid bias,” “remain professionally objective”, and “refrain from real or perceived conflict of interest.” The WHO, Health Canada, and the Dietitians of Canada all recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life as the optimal way to feed infants. Clearly, a dietitian partnering with a formula company inhibits her ability to promote breastfeeding and creates a clear conflict of interest.

Nestlé attempted to stage a similar conference in Burnaby last year, but was obliged to cancel it after letters of protest were written by health professionals and concerned citizens across the country. That the company is so persistent in attempting to violate the Code is discouraging. I respectfully request that you abide by the International Code and the CDBC’s Code of Ethics and cancel this event.

Our contacts in Burnaby have expressed their willingness to demonstrate at the event should it go ahead, as well as to contact local media. I hope that, as happened last year, Nestlé will realize the folly of events like this and consider abiding by the Code in the future.

Sincerely,


To: Melanie Journoud and

Fern Hubbard

College of Dietitians of British Columbia

Dear College of Dietitians of British Columbia,

I’m writing to you regarding the upcoming event in Burnaby on June 12 entitled “The Infant Feeding Maze”, being hosted by Nestlé Nutrition. Local health workers have been invited to the event, and the evening’s speaker is Owennie Lee, a registered dietitian.

This talk is being staged by Nestlé, the world’s largest infant formula company, and it is aimed at professionals who work with mothers and babies. It is unreasonable to expect that it will be purely informational, and not promotional in nature.

The WHO, Health Canada, and the Dietitians of Canada all recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life as the optimal way to feed infants. Nestlé has a vested interest in discouraging breastfeeding and promoting infant formula. Therefore participation in events like this present health workers with a conflict of interest, and are in violation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

The International Code was created in 1981 by the WHO and UNICEF to protect infant health and breastfeeding, and violating it can put infants and young children at risk. Article 7.3 of the Code states: “No financial or material inducements to promote [infant feeding products] should be offered by manufacturers or distributors to health workers”. The event in question includes an expensive dinner at a downtown hotel, which could certainly be construed as a material inducement to win the favour of health professionals.

Resolution 49.15 of the World Health Assembly, which carries the same weight as the Code, states companies like Nestlé have a responsibility “to ensure that the financial support for professionals working in infant and young child health does not create conflicts of interest”. Clearly the sponsorship of nutrition conferences by a formula company creates a conflict of interest for health workers who attend, and compromises their ability to promote breastfeeding.

The CDBC’s own Code of Ethics states that BC dietitians must “avoid bias” and “remain professionally objective.” How can a dietitian who is being paid by a formula company effectively convey what’s best for babies, namely the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks associated with artificial formula? The Code of Ethics also states that dietitians must “refrain from real or perceived conflict of interest” and “advocate for the client at all times.” If she’s speaking at an event sponsored by Nestlé, how can a dietitian claim she’s advocating for anyone but the company? This can surely be perceived as a conflict of interest.

While I am aware that CDBC is understands the importance of breastfeeding, that an accredited member of your organization would participate in an event like this is discouraging. It appears at least some of your members are not fully aware of their responsibilities under the Code, or the negative effect that formula promotion has on infant health. I respectfully ask that you affirm your support for the Code and infant health, and consider letting Owennie Lee and Nestlé know that the College of Dietitians views her participation in this event as a breach of CDBC’s Code of Ethics.

Sincerely,

3 comments:

restyled home said...

Thanks for the heads up, Wendy. I already emailed all of the parties. Stuff like this really pisses me off!!

Yours in breastfeeding,(yuk, yuk!!)
Linda

Anonymous said...

Get your facts straight and stop being so completely biased.

onelittlemustardseed said...

Enlighten me on Nestle and how exactly I have my facts wrong about their marketing practices over-seas.

Thanks!