Nestlé defends marketing of its infant milk products

Nestlé has defended itself against an activist group’s criticism of its infant milk products, saying it respects international marketing standards and does not suggest its products are better than breastmilk.

It was responding to a report by the Changing Markets Foundation accusing the world’s largest packaged food company of putting profit before science.

Nestlé, whose baby food brands include Gerber, said it complies with the World Health Organisation code on marketing breastmilk substitutes and applies its own policy when it is stricter than national legislation.

“Nestlé ensures that the composition of its formulas is strictly informed by the best available science,” it said.

“Nestlé does not use any statements on its infant formula products or in its other communications that idealise its products or imply they are superior to or equivalent to breastmilk,” it added.

The Changing Markets Foundation report had found Nestlé had many inconsistencies across its range of formula products and cast doubt on the credibility of some of its health claims.

The Changing Markets Foundation is a Dutch group that says it promotes campaigns to address sustainability challenges by trying to shift business away from companies with unsustainable products.

In what is seen as a major success story for the agricultural sector here, Ireland now supplies 20% of the world’s infant formula and is the second biggest exporter to China where a contamination scandal 10 years ago left Chinese parents fearful of buying locally-produced formula. Exports of Irish infant-food formula amounted to at least €1.2bn in 2016.

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