Media Coverage :
Nestle breaks the baby food law, Governments look the other way
September 16, 2013 : It’s important to note that IMS Act ,(Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution Act, 1992 and Amendment Act 2003) prohibits any kind of promotion of baby foods intended for use in children below 2 years of age. According to the law “promotion” means to employ directly or indirectly any method of encouraging any person to purchase or use infant milk substitute, feeding bottle or infant food.
Wold Health Organization as a global public health recommendation says “...infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond...”
But for Nestle it does not mean anything. Even after more than two decades of having a law to regulate marketing of baby foods in India (IMS Act), Nestle is found breaking it.
In an analysis of labels done last week by BPNI, an agency gazetted to monitor the compliance with IMS Act, alleges that Nestle is promoting its two most popular products CERELAC and NAN Pro 1 and violating the law.
Here are the details:
“Introducing cereal foods to a child before 6 months of age displaces mother’s milk and can lead to serious health risks including diarrhea. Babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months” said Dr.J.P.Dadhich, Pediatrician and National Coordinator BPNI.
According to Dr.Arun Gupta, Member, Prime Minister Council on India’s Nutrition Challenge “using such expressions and graphic are meant to increase the saleability of the product and this is extremely objectionable. The law exists from 21 years and yet not fully implemented.”
Nestle is facing a criminal charge in the court of law for alleged violation of the IMS Act in 1994 and it took 17 years for the court to frame a charge in 2012.
Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) having done this analysis demands that the Government of India should take immediate action to curb such misleading behaviour of the baby food industry by setting institutional mechanism to monitor the compliance of the law. BPNI also sense the need of fast track courts to settle criminal procedures in such cases.
BPNI is a registered, independent, non-profit, national organization that works towards protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding of infants & young children registered as a society under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860, s 23144.BPNI does not accept funds or sponsorship of any kind from the companies producing infant milk substitutes, feeding bottles, related equipments, or infant foods (cereal foods). It serves the Regional Coordinating Office of International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) for Asia, which is a network of groups working to promote optimal infant and young child nutrition in over 25 countries. http://www.bpni.org/
Dr.Arun Gupta, Regional Coordinator, IBFAN Asia; email@example.com ; 9899676306
Dr.J.P.Dadhich, National Coordinator, BPNI; firstname.lastname@example.org ; 9873926751
Dr.Neelima Thakur, Sr.Program Officer, BPNI; email@example.com;9871067083
Nupur Bidla, Program Officer, BPNI;firstname.lastname@example.org;9958163610
Notes for editors:
• Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992http://wcd.nic.in/infantmilkpact1.pdf
• Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992, Amendment Act 2003(IMS Act) http://wcd.nic.in/IMSamendact2003.pdf
• Notification on Infant Milk Substitute http://wcd.nic.in/noto271003.pdf
• WHO and UNICEF ‘s Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding, 2003http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2003/9241562218.pdf
• WHO , World Breastfeeding Week 2013 ; Maternal , newborn, child and adolescent health
• National Guidelines on Infant and Young Child Feeding, 2004 http://wcd.nic.in/nationalguidelines.pdf
• Marketing Offender report, World Breastfeeding Conference2012 http://worldbreastfeedingconference.org/images/marketing_offenders.pdf
Picture 1: CERELAC Stage 1 (Wheat) & Stage 2 (Wheat Orange) Infant Food
Picture 2: NAN Pro 1 (Infant Milk Substitute)
Some other examples of CERELAC (Infant Food with graphics and fortification expression)