Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nestle Boycott Week OCtober 26- November 1, 2009

This year Nestlé-Free Week will take place from 26 October - 1 November.


Monitoring around the world by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) finds that Nestlé is the worst of the companies when it comes to breaking international standards for the marketing of baby foods adopted by the World Health Assembly.

According to UNICEF: "Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute."

Sign up if you will be supporting/promoting Nestlé-Free Week

This encompasses Halloween in some countries, which Nestlé is increasingly trying to exploit in the UK.

You can find background information on the boycott of Nestlé over its baby milk pushing in our Nestlé-Free Zone. Plus resources for promoting the boycott. For example, you will find code for adding the Nestlé-Free Zone logo to your website or blog, with a link back for other to do the same. See:


The ongoing boycott focuses on Nestlé's flagship product, Nescafé coffee. We list all products from which Nestlé profits, so if you don't normally avoid the whole lot, why not do so during this week? You may surprise yourself with how many alternative products are out there.

If you find that your friends and colleagues say they would boycott, but.... then challenge them to do so at least for this week.

You can go directly to our boycott list (which has a UK focus, but with information on where to check for other countries) at:

We would welcome other poster designs specifically for the week, so feel free to send them to me at

You can also find items for promoting the boycott in our online Virtual Shop at:

Pinky McKay----Don't Let Anybody "Should" On You

I have just returned from visiting another lovely, intelligent mother who is doing a wonderful job with her baby, but is convinced she must be doing ‘everything wrong’. She feels guilty that she has messed up her baby’s early days (she hasn’t at all!); she feels inadequate because (she thinks) she can’t read her baby’s cues (she is making perfect eye-contact with her baby - their connection is like a lovers’ gaze and as we talk, she intuitively comforts her baby or changes his position at the slightest grimace or squirm); she feels guilty that she has stressed her baby about feeding. The baby was refusing to breastfeed after some inappropriate advice and now the mum is beating up on herself for listening to the advice that made things more difficult. But really, what choice did she have? Her baby was unsettled (as newborns often are), so what desperate, sleep deprived mother wouldn’t be ready to grasp at whatever straw was being offered if it sounded reasonable at the time – or was being offered by somebody who seemed more experienced about babies than a brand new mum?

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident. Almost every day lately, I seem to be visiting or speaking to beautiful attuned mothers who are totally confused and convinced that they are ‘bad mothers’ or that they are failing their babies in some way or another.

It seems that everybody has been at these women, telling them they are ‘doing it wrong’ or not following ‘the rules’, depending on what rules their critic thinks they should follow or which book they have slavishly been trying to follow ( which, of course, came highly recommended by a friend or acquaintance who found it worked for their baby). In the vulnerable state of new mummy-hood, these formerly competent woman are feeling overwhelmed enough by their new life (the little one in their arms most of the day, that is) without also being undermined as they struggle to nurture their babies with the very best intent - to be the best mothers they can be.

While it is great to be informed - to read, to ask questions and to watch what other parents do with their children - it is also important to remember that each baby is different and every family is unique. When you try to follow a single, one sized set of rules, and it doesn’t apply to your individual baby, it can do your head in. It is also important to bear in mind that what may have seemed perfectly logical before you actually met your baby, may not feel right now. This doesn’t mean you have lost the plot or ‘given in’ especially if you find yourself being less ‘organised’ than you had planned to be. As well as a whole new job spec, you have a new set of hormones to work with. These are actually nature’s tools - these ‘new mummy’ hormones help you feel responsive towards your baby and this is why you feel confused as you take on advice from the lady next door, your best friend or the lady in the supermarket (who advised one couple, “if she cries, don’t pick her up!” even though the baby was perfectly content in her pram at the time), especially if it involves dire warnings about spoiling your baby.

Instead of stressing about what you ‘should’ be doing with your baby, remind yourself that the cuddle police won’t come knocking on your door: hold your baby in your arms and look deeply into those dark navy blue eyes. As you spend time talking and listening to your little one, you will become aware of his language and you will become skilled at communicating. As this happens, you will naturally develop confidence – that you are the expert about your baby.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nestlé: the world's biggest food company and one of the 'most boycotted

The world's largest food company began life in 1867, when Henri Nestlé developed the first milk food for infants - and "saved the life of a neighbour's child".

By Ian Johnston
Published: 8:45AM BST 27 Sep 2009

Nestlé has worldwide sales totalling £67 billion in 2008 Photo: EPA
He fed his formula to a premature baby boy whose mother was dangerously ill and unable to feed the child. The boy survived, sending sales soaring at a time of high infant mortality.

Since then the Geneva-based firm has grown into a corporate colossus with worldwide sales totalling £67 billion in 2008.

Nescafé coffee can be found in almost every country on the planet and the company owns scores of other household names.

In the UK, these include confectionary such as Kit Kat, Smarties, Yorkie and Aero along with Perrier water.

Elsewhere, Hot Pockets is the number one "frozen stuffed sandwich brand" in the US, Mucilon is the best-selling infant cereal in Brazil, Baeren Marke is a well-known dairy brand in Germany and Orion chocolate is "much loved" by Czechs and Slovaks.

Mövenpick ice cream is found in 35 countries, Pure Life bottled water is sold in 21 and Purina Dog Chow is the world's fourth largest dry dog food brand.

However the company is far from universally popular. In 2005, it was described as "one of the world's most boycotted companies" – along with Nike, Coca Cola and McDonald's – after an online poll of more than 15,000 people in 17 different countries.

The main reason for the boycott is the sale of the modern version of Henri's life-saving invention in the Third World. The campaign group Baby Milk Action claims that a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea in areas with unsafe drinking water, while breast-fed children are less likely to suffer a range of illnesses.

The group is part of a worldwide movement, the International Baby Food Action Network which involves 200 citizens' groups in more than 100 countries, and which will hold its annual "Nestlé-Free Week" at the end of October.

In May, Nestlé said it believeds "breast feeding is the best way to feed a baby", but added: "When mothers cannot, or choose not to, breast feed, infant formula is the only product recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a suitable alternative. Nestlé universally follows all countries' implementation of the WHO code."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Kid's Menu: How to Avoid Baby Formula

by Lesley Porcelli

The Kid’s Menu: How to Avoid Baby Formula
The world seems to start pushing formula on mothers at the moment of conception. But what if you just want your baby to drink breast milk?

The more I think about baby formula, the harder it is for me to believe that some people voluntarily feed this stuff to their offspring. To be fair, I was a formula baby, and I don’t have any of the horrible health problems that the scare tacticians warn about, but think about it: Formula was concocted in a lab! What if starting out life eating scientist-designed food is the reason I can’t be alone with an open box of cheez crackers today?

But avoiding formula is really, really hard. It started way before my baby was born. In my fifth month of pregnancy, a package arrived in the mail: Inside were two cans of Similac. I don’t know how they found me, but that was only the beginning. My shopping bags from maternity stores often had formula samples wrapped right up with the clothes. A “new mother” gift from my obstetrician ostensibly contained stuff I’d need for the hospital: a tiny toothbrush, a dainty tube of toothpaste, a miniscule bar of soap, and a nice big can of formula.

Right after my emergency C-section, the nurses at the hospital started parading through my room with their clipboards and looks of concern. “Your milk will take longer to come in because of the surgery,” they said. “Perhaps the baby should get some formula.” I put them off, instead trying to nurse my giant baby as often as I could to stimulate milk production. “His blood sugar is falling, which happens with big babies,” they said. “We could give him a bottle at night and give you a chance to sleep.” A Similac pen dangled around the night-nurse’s neck. “Okay,” I said, “but just an ounce or so. Otherwise, if he’s hungry, bring him to me.” I woke up after 6 hours, sort of shocked that the baby hadn’t been brought in to feed yet, and rang for the nurse. She rolled his bassinet in. “What a good eater he is!” she said. “He drank the whole bottle!”

The clincher was when Franklin’s jaundice set in—apparently a common affliction in newborn babies, but the best way to get rid of it, I was told, is with lots of hydration. I gave in. I was instructed by a nurse to finish each nursing session with as much formula as the baby wanted. Of course, we sprang from the hospital three days later completely hooked. I couldn’t stand it—the formula, along with Franklin’s breath—smelled awful, like miso soup mixed with an instant breakfast drink. “How can he want to eat something that stinks so much?” asked my husband.

Theoretically, it would be simple to wean Franklin from formula. But his nursing sessions only seemed more perfunctory with each passing day, an hors d’oeuvre to nibble before the real meal, which he always guzzled with gusto. I hired a lactation consultant (yes, that’s a real job), and we came up with a plan to get him off the bottle.

A visit to the pediatrician only increased my hysteria, as even with his two-course meals, Franklin had put on a bare minimum of weight. “Don’t you have any milk?” the nurse asked me, holding her Enfamil-brand clipboard. My stomach flipped over. “Hmm,” said the lactation consultant calmly, when I called her with the news. “He’s playing with us. Cut off the formula completely.”

I became a permanent resident, as my husband would tell me, of Crazy Town. I called the lactation consultant every day during her office hours, breaking into cold sweats on Saturdays, the only day when, as an orthodox Jew, she didn’t take calls. I talked to friends who had successfully breastfed and obsessed over the details. “He only swallows once per five sucks!” I said to my friend Laura over lunch with our babies. “What’s Anna’s suck-to-swallow ratio??” “Uh, I’m not…sure…” she said, eyeing me like you might look at someone holding you hostage. I even phoned a friend’s sister whom I had never met, just because I had heard that she might have some breastfeeding wisdom to impart (thanks, Jennifer’s sister). I counted dirty diapers, and kept a little journal of Franklin’s output. (“Poo, pee, poop, ah-ha,” sang my sister merrily, to the tune of the Witch Doctor, as she read the notebook.) My mother asked, “When are you going to relax and start enjoying this baby?”

There it was. That was the subtext to those first weeks: If you just give in, it said, you can stop worrying and begin to enjoy your baby. The shiny cans at the drugstore mocked me. “Sensitive,” said one, “Reduces Fussiness and Gas.” Franklin was fussy at night—in my paranoia, I was sure it was from hunger—and I secretly wondered if formula would bring us both peace. But I couldn’t give in, out of sheer stubbornness: I had been cooking from scratch for way too many years to feed my baby meal-replacement shakes.

In the end, the lactation consultant was absolutely right: It was the breastmilk-formula tango that kept Franklin from really learning how to nurse, and as soon as we eliminated the formula, he took to the milk like a football player at the all-you-can-eat buffet. We went for a weigh-in at the pediatrician’s, and finally, Franklin tipped the scales, gaining more than the requisite number of ounces. I was about to leave the doctor’s office victoriously when I realized the baby needed a diaper change, and I asked the nurse for one of their disposable changing pads. “We have a reusable one that you can keep,” she said, handing me a rolled-up piece of vinyl. I opened it. In the lower corner was a pocket containing a box of Similac. I sighed and undid Franklin’s diaper. An arc of pee shot up, landing squarely on the formula. “Good job, Franklin,” I thought.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Breast-feeding could save 1.3 million lives

Breast-feeding could save 1.3 million lives
WHO: Only 40 percent of women nurse their babies for first six months

July 31, 2009
GENEVA - Teaching new mothers how to breast-feed could save 1.3 million children's lives every year, but many women get no help and give up trying, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

Fewer than 40 percent of mothers worldwide breast-feed their infants exclusively in the first six months, as recommended by the WHO. Many abandon it because they don't know how to get their baby to latch on properly or suffer pain and discomfort.

"When it comes to doing it practically, they don't have the practical support," WHO expert Constanza Vallenas told a news briefing in Geneva, where the United Nations agency is based.

This is a problem in both rich and poor countries, she said, calling for more assistance in hospitals, health clinics and communities for new mothers who need information and help.

Pregnant women should also be made aware of the risks they face from both seasonal flu and the new H1N1 pandemic, the WHO said, calling as well for more attention to influenza symptoms in the vulnerable group.

Expectant mothers should get top priority for antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, ideally administered within 48 hours of the onset of illness, WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi told reporters.

"Pregnant women, when they get flu, are at risk and they should see a doctor," she said. "It adds to the risk and it is really essential for pregnant women to seek medication."

U.S. health experts have said that pregnant women should also be first to get vaccines against the H1N1 virus, known as swine flu, with caregivers for infants second.

The WHO recommends that babies start breast-feeding within one hour of their birth, and ingest only breast milk for the first six months, avoiding water and other drinks and foods.

This can give children vital nutrients and strengthen their immune system to fight diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. Formula milk does not provide the same immunity and local water can be contaminated or unsafe in many parts of the world.

Raising to 90 percent the global breast-feeding rate for infants to six months would save an estimated 13 percent of the 10 million under-age-5 deaths a year, Vallenas said.

In a statement released to mark World breast-feeding Week, August 1-7, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said it was also important that mothers in disaster zones be given the support they need to continue or restart breast-feeding.

"During emergencies, unsolicited or uncontrolled donations of breast milk substitutes may undermine breast-feeding and should be avoided," Chan said, arguing abandoning breast-feeding could put vulnerable child lives at extra risk. "The focus should be on active protection and support of breast-feeding."