Intended for healthcare professionals


Nestle obeys Indian label laws

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 16 September 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:749
  1. Denise Briggs
  1. Specialist in dietetics Corporate Affairs Department, Nestle UK Ltd, Croydon, Surrey CR9 1NR

    EDITOR,--It is disappointing that a professional journal like the BMJ should print stories in an obviously slanted way, and the inaccuracies of Claire Lockwood's news report1 need to be corrected.

    The Indian court case is a direct result of a conflict between two laws which will have to be determined by the government or by the courts. One law requires the labels to contain the statement, “Breast milk is best for your baby,” while the other requires “Mother's milk is best for your baby.” It is clearly right that the law should be observed, and either is equally acceptable to Nestle. The issue is of no significance to the health of infants, which is presumably everyone's prime concern.

    Similarly, your reporter misrepresents the issue of language. The Indian government determines the language of the labels and these laws are adhered to by Nestle. Although this is not a legal obligation, almost all Nestle labels for products dealing with infant feeding are printed in both English and Hindi, and they include pictorial instructions for those who cannot read. Some other infant formula products in India have until recently had labels in English only, and we are aware of no court action against these manufacturers. The language “problem” is not about instructions or warnings, as your readers may expect, but only concerns the one phrase about which there remains doubt within the law—which Nestle prints in both English and Hindi.

    Lockwood does not identify the “potentially misleading instructions” mentioned. There are none.

    Nestle adheres fully to the WHO International Code and to Indian law. We fully investigate all allegations and guarantee swift response and action if required. It is noteworthy that none of the complaints against Nestle are made by the Indian government or regulatory bodies of the health and paediatric services. Nestle's reputation in this field is the highest in India. It is sad that the BMJ does not pursue balanced reporting on this as in other matters.


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