Intended for healthcare professionals


Baby milk companies accused of breaching marketing code

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 18 January 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:165
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. BMJ

    Leading baby milk manufacturers are violating the international code on marketing breast milk substitutes, according to a damning report by a group of 27 religious and health organisations.

    1.5 million deaths a year could be prevented by breast feeding


    The World Health Organisation's international code of marketing of breast milk substitutes was adopted in 1981 to ensure safe and adequate infant nutrition by protecting and promoting breast feeding. A report by the Interagency Group on Breastfeeding Monitoring, which includes Unicef, Save the Children, and Voluntary Service Overseas, says that there is conclusive evidence that many infant formula manufacturers regularly breach this code.

    The report, Cracking the Code, criticises Nestlé and Gerber of Switzerland, Mead Johnson and Wyeth of the United States, and Nutricia of the Netherlands (marketed as Cow and Gate in Britain). The research was immediately condemned by the International Association of Infant Food Manufacturers as biased in design and execution.

    The research was carried out in Thailand, Bangladesh, South Africa, and Poland. A random sample of 800 pregnant women and mothers of infants under 6 months old and 120 health workers in each country were interviewed.

    Women in …

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