Thursday, June 21, 2007


July 2-8 has been named as Nestle Free Week

What's so bad about Nestle you ask?
The boycott has been going on for 30 years and is due mostly to Nestle targeting mothers in impoverished nations in order to get them to use formula. As was stated in 1978

"Can a product which requires clean water, good sanitation, adequate family income and a literate parent to follow printed instructions, be properly and safely used in areas where water is contaminated, sewage runs through the streets, poverty is severe and illiteracy is high?"

The answer, of course, is no.

Now, I formula feed Hana. It was a hard choice to make, but one of necessity, things had gotten so bad she was starving and would not latch. I know other people who formula feed just because they choose to, and that is their decision to make. However, they did so with clean water and sterile materials, ensuring their baby was not getting contaminated food, doing the best they could even tho it wasn't the optimal source of nutrition. So this isn't about a mother's ability to choose what she feeds her baby.

This is about targeting mothers in situations where preparing formula properly is near impossible, in North America and around the world. In North America low income families are more likely to use formula. I don't know if you've noticed, but formula is expensive, 11-30$ a can, which for Hana (who eats about 30 oz a day) lasts about 5 days. If mother's can't afford the formula they're prone to water it down or offer substitutes (juice etc.) and the baby ends up not getting the nutrition it needs. Sure, Nestle (and other companies) are good about sending them coupons, but think about the difference that would have been made if the mother was given the support and resources she needed in order to successfully nurse. Also, even with the coupons, Nestle is still bringing in a profit, so they really aren't being the good guys.

In the same vein, targeting mothers in situations where clean water is nearly impossible to come by is just horrible. Baring any life threatening condition that would make breastfeeding more of a risk than contaminated water there is no reason why formula would be the best choice. It makes me sick to think of those infants who could be getting all the food they need (and antibodies) from their mother safely but instead are starving.

So even tho Nestle formula might say "breast is best" they still give out samples to mothers in hospital (and anyone who has breastfed knows the first few days and weeks are all a confidence game), give gifts to health care workers and promote their formula over the "competition" (a successful nursing relationship).

According to the World Health Organization, 1.5 million babies die every year as a result of not being breastfed. That's too many.

So please consider joining this boycott, even just for the week. And don't forget to let Nestle know you're boycotting them and why.

There's more info here, here, and here.

Oh, and a list of what to boycott is here. Remember to always check labels, companies buy and sell products all the time.


Lindy said...

Very interesting..... Why do you think more low income mothers use formula. It seems counter-intuitive to me. As I have nothing to boycott at the moment I'll keep it in mind MANY years down the road when I have a kid.

Steph said...

There are a lot of reasons why it's usually low income mothers who choose formula -
1. They usually have to go back to work soon after their baby is born. This doesn't leave much time for working on a solid nursing relationship. Breastfeeding can be really difficult, especially the first few weeks.
2. Renting or buying a breast pump is expensive, and not all employers offer mothers a clean place to pump, or the time to do so (tho there are laws in some places protecting this right).
3. Taking time to go see a lactation consultant can be near impossible and expensive.
4. Free formula is given out in hospitals. This can be life saving, but can also give a mother the temptation to switch when things are rough the first few days.
5. Breastfeeding literature from formula companies is misleading. I had a pamphlet that talked about "is your baby getting enough" - saying she should go 2-3 hrs. BETWEEN feedings, when really newborns usually eat every 2 hrs (that's 2 hrs from the start of a feeding to the start of the next one, even if the feeding itself lasts for an hour or more). With so much at the begining being a confidence game a mother can feel like their child is starving, so a bottle "just to fill her up" is very tempting. Then the baby gets used to the easy flow from the bottle and doesn't want the breast anymore, there can be nipple confusion, and the mother doesn't produce enough milk. Supplementing doesn't always cause the end of breastfeeding, but it happens a lot.

And even tho you don't have a kid, there are still lots of things Nestle makes that you can boycott. KitKat, Nesquick, L'Oreal etc. are all Nestle products.

Nate and Jess said...

Holy Man Steph!! alot has happened on your blog since I last looked! it took me almost 2 hrs to read through it all...I just want to say that I love you, and am glad you are parenting the way you are for Hana. Her life will be so much more enriched because of it.

Love you Steph and Hana!!