Nestlé moves from obfuscation to outright lies

This seems a good point to start a new post.

Many Nestle-bloggers seem to be continuing to believe that by taking their questions straight to the company, they will get honest replies, and will clear up all these decades of silly misunderstanding in a jiffy. Under great pressure, Nestle corporate representatives have finally joined in on twitter, as @nestlefamily, to try to defend the brand, and the bloggers that they roped in, uninformed and untrained, to be their PR agents.

Here was one of the first questions asked of Nestlé at their @nestlefamily account, by @momslant:

@NestleFamily Has marketing infant formula in developing countries reduced infant mortality rates? Supporting stats?

@nestlefamily’s reply:

@momslant Im sorry we don't have that information. We do not market infant formula in developing countries.

Whew! Well, that changes everything! None of these countries have experienced any kind of Nestlé formula marketing at all! None of them!

Let’s pick just one to test the assertion. Let’s pick, say, the Philippines, where the Formula For Disaster film was filmed. The Philippines, where Nestlé called for the heads of UNICEF and WHO Philippines to be recalled for speaking out in favour of breastfeeding at a time when stronger formula marketing regulations were being considered by the Supreme Court. The Philippines, where Nestlé employs nurses as ‘Health Educators’ and sends them into the community to promote Nestogen infant formula to new mothers (more). The Philippines, where Nestlé’s direct marketing to mothers received a business award. The Philippines, where Nestle provides free Nestle-branded gifts to healthcare workers. The Philippines, where the government has been fighting a long, drawn-out battle with formula companies who want unrestricted marketing (to the point where a government lawyer was assassinated), and where Nestle have been involved in opposing key provisions of formula marketing restrictions (more here).

Next? Shall we move on to, say, the Ukraine? Bangladesh?

Categories: ethics & philosophy, social justice

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

14 replies

  1. I guess we’re not actually going to get any answers from them. Surprise surprise.

  2. I was monumentally unimpressed by Scott’s response to the one question of mine he did answer, which was about violating WHO standards for formula marketing. He simply lied and said they didn’t, and then failed to answer the rest of my questions.
    I think what’s been very interesting about this debate is that when people like you have calmly presented facts and supporting information to back up those facts, the bloggers attending the conference have attended with “we’re being attacked!” I had no idea that discussing the ethical implications involved in accepting handouts from Nestle was an attack…and was amused to see them saying that people should “just ask Nestle for all the answers,” as though people hadn’t been trying to communicate with Nestle about corporate wrongdoing for over 30 years.

  3. Obviously the definition of developing country is a country that Nestle’ doesn’t market to.

  4. Wow. Nestlé are such blatant liars.
    You only have to go to the email alert sign-up page and look at all the countries on the drop down list.

  5. WOW! That’s some serious outright lying! Just gross.

  6. @ Carol – I read yesterday that that means Bangladesh and Burkina Faso, coincidentally the two poorest nations on earth.

  7. 2008: Nestle recalls baby milk powder from SAfrica, Botswana, Zambia …

    Swiss food giant Nestle said Wednesday it had withdrawn 250 shipments of baby milk powder from South Africa, Botswana and Zambia due to defects in the mixture.
    The problem batch of Lactogen 1, produced in South Africa and sold in the three Southern African states, had been found to contain overly high amounts of zinc, copper and iron.

  8. I was making a joke . Nestle says it doesn’t market in developing country therefore those countries aren’t developing. (As if we’d let a corporation define “developing country” to us. Like letting Polanski define ‘rape’.)

  9. I took that to mean that Nestle US doesn’t…that they were answering only for Nestle US. Quite the dodge.

  10. Now we just have to monitor whether Nestle keeps to the assurance they gave the BBC that they wont start buying from the Dairy Board of Zimbabwe which will now be buying her milk.


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