MNCs violate laws on breast milk substitute

Baby food companies, including Nestle are violating an Indian law that bans advertisement and promotion of breast-milk substitutes, a non-profit organisation has alleged.

Going against the provisions of the 1992 Infant Milk Substitute (IMS), Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods Act (Regulation of production, supply and distribution), these companies promote their products in e-commerce websites, provide promotional display materials to hospitals and chemist shops and sponsor medical events through front organisations.

“Nestle uses health claims to promote its baby foods Nan-1 and Lactogen-1 through various websites and tied sales of its Cerelac Stage 2 Wheat Orange with baby detergents,” Arun Gupta from Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India claimed here on Wednesday.When contacted, a Nestle India spokesperson told Deccan Herald, “The allegations are incorrect. Nestle India fully complies with the IMS Act as applicable to our baby food products. Nestle India does not promote its baby foods on any websites and has not tied up sales with any other baby product as incorrectly alleged.” 

On the eve of the world breast feeding week, the World Health Organisation said only 37 countries in the world including India have laws to regulate sale of infant milk substitutes in accordance with an international code adopted by the WHO body in 1974.

Indian public health specialists, however, allege that these companies routinely break the provisions of the IMS act. A company spokesperson said, “The allegation regarding Nestle Nutrition Institute is absolutely misleading. The objective of NNI is to help improve public health by sharing science based nutrition information and to educate health professionals through scientific workshops.

The IMS Act does not discourage or prohibit dissemination of scientific information. NNI is not engaged in advertising or promoting infant milk substitutes or infant food.”

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