Nestlé began by saying:
Nestlé fully supports the aims and principles of the World Health Organization Code and since the May vote has taken positive steps to assist in the implementation of the Code. We have not used mass media advertising for infant formula in the developing countries for more than three years nor do we give samples direct to mothers. We are currently initiating policy changes relating to labels and educational materials. These changes must of necessity be discussed with the authorities in the individual countries in which we operate and will be implemented as soon as possible. The WHO Code is a recommendation to governments to adopt measures suited to their national needs. We are consulting with those authorities on their understanding of Code recommendations that are open to differing interpretations or where the implementation of the recommendation would conflict with existing national laws, regulations or codes.
Nestlé: There is no scientific evidence that demonstrates a cause and effect relationship between marketing practices for infant formula and infant malnutrition in the Third World.
Nestlé: For those babies who need nutritionally appropriate breastmilk supplements or substitutes these are necessary, often lifesaving products. Where their use is vital but there is a risk of misuse then education is all the more necessary.
Nestlé: Given the role and responsibilities of health services and present exceedingly limited infrastructure this would not be a practical suggestion even for a developed country.
Nestlé: There is nothing in the WHO Code which recommends against company personnel providing information on ‘scientific and factual matters’. The demonstration of the preparation of infant formula to health professionals is part of the responsibility of the manufacturer and is of course a factual matter.
Nestlé: Nestlé supports the aims and principles of the WHO Code and agrees that the marketing of infant formula should be designed not to discourage breastfeeding.
Nestlé: The Code is not a law. It is a recommendation to governments to adopt measures according to their own needs to improve infant nutrition. In accordance with Article 11.3 of the Code, our marketing practices are fully in line with the principles and aim of the Code.
Nestlé: It is correct to say that the sales of infant formula in the Third World represent approximately 2.5 per cent of the Nestlé group turnover. Our responsibilities are not affected by the size of this business.
Nestlé: A full investigation and documented response is made to all allegations made against Nestlé . The overwhelming majority of these allegations are either false or so vague as to be impossible to check. We would point out that under article 11.4 of the WHO Code those concerned have the responsibility to draw attention of manufacturers and government authorities to any allegations of activities which are incompatible with the principles and aim of the Code.
Nestlé: In 1976 Nestlé took legal action against the authors of a booklet and the defendants at the Bern trial were found guilty of libel.
Nestlé: We know of no group or individual who has boycotted after an objective review of both sides of the issue. Dialogue and cooperation in improving infant feeding practices are essential and must involve health professionals, government officials, representatives of industry and community leaders as appropriate.
This first appeared in our award-winning magazine - to read more, subscribe from just £7