Friday, June 19, 2009

From INFACT Canada----Action Alert

INFACT Canada Action Alert...National nutrition conference sponsored by NestléShare

ACTION ALERT – National nutrition conference sponsored by Nestlé

INFACT Canada has learned that a pediatric nutrition conference slated for September has listed Nestlé Nutrition as a major sponsor. The Alberta Health Services First Annual Canadian Perinatal and Pediatric Nutrition Conference being held in Edmonton on September 25-26 is not only being sponsored by Nestlé, but one of its speakers will be a Nestlé employee.

It is a serious conflict of interest for a public health agency such as Alberta Health Services (AHS) to stage a pediatric nutrition conference in partnership with an infant formula manufacturer like Nestlé. Nestlé is notorious for its aggressive marketing of infant formula and obstinate rejection of the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. The company recently launched a deceptive marketing campaign claiming that probiotics added to its formula will mimic the bifidus factor of human milk. It is no coincidence that one of the conference’s themes will be probiotics in infant nutrition.

As reported in a previous INFACT email, Nestlé’s new formula contains so-called “natural cultures” of bifidus bacteria, which are found in breastmilk. The company is marketing the new brand as equivalent to breastmilk. “There are only two places your baby can get natural cultures,” reads the advertising tagline, “The first is you. The other is from Nestlé Good Start Natural Cultures.” No scientific study is cited as proof that the bacterial cultures in this formula have the same effect on infants as breastmilk.

Nestle intentionally does not warn parents that its powdered infant formulas are not sterile and may be contaminated with the lethal microorganism Enterobacter sakazakii. This bacteria is capable of causing sepsis, meningitis, necrotizing enterocolitis and death in infants. The World Health Organization has produced guidelines for the preparation of powedered formula which state it should be reconsituted at 70ْ C to kill any bacteria present. This temparature would also destroy Nestlé’s so-called “natural cultures” and so the company’s new formula ads tell parents not to heat the water above 40ْ C . Exposing babies to E. sakazakii infection is a significant known risk, while Nestlé’s unfounded health claim is of minimal or no benefit.

It is outrageous that the AHS, an organization funded by Canadian taxpayers, should allow itself to be used by Nestlé to promote a product that poses a danger to Canadian infants. INFACT Canada is asking for your support in a campaign to put a stop to this sponsorship. With the help of our members, we have been successful in the past at ridding conferences of Nestlé’s influence.

Your voice really counts! Please write to Alberta Health Services and ask them to refuse the Nestle sponsorship and act responsibly to protect infant and young child health.

INFACT Canada has written a sample letter. Write your own letter or adapt INFACT’s below.

Send emails to

Mary Anne Yirkuw and Kim Brunet

Conference co-chairs

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