Employees dressed up in doctor’s coats or nurse uniforms telling moms formula is healthiest for their babies and handing out free cans…
Babies getting diarrhea and dying or getting incredibly ill from contaminated water mixed with their formula…
That was in the 80′s, and what started the Nestle boycott. People claim those who boycott need to get over it, and that Nestle has since recanted and improved.
So why is the breastfeeding rate in Indonesia disturbingly low and dropping as much as 10% in a two year period, 40% of children under 5 are malnourished enough to suffer stunted growth, babies are dying and women believe that formula is better than their breastmilk?
Because Nestle DIDN’T stop their tactics… they just moved on to another country.
Indonesia has very unsanitary living conditions, and struggles from a lot of the same problems that made the push of formula so dangerous in South Africa the first time Nestle pulled this stunt — very dirty water, unsanitary bottles and nipples, and not enough resources to continually supply formula for at least a year, lacking medical care and rampant diseases, so the antibodies from breastmilk become literally lifesaving.
Yet Nestle has convinced women so thoroughly that their formulas are superior that when the charity group “Mercy Corp” tried to talk to moms-to-be and new moms about breastfeeding, they literally did not believe that breastmilk was better than formula, citing that the commercials on TV had told them formula was superior. Who’s commercials? Well gee, I’ll give you one guess.
Despite their three-month maternity leave (can the US be even further behind?), their breastfeeding rates are absymal because like the US, their country hasn’t adopted the WHO/UNICEF’s Code… but unlike our country, they have even more to lose from not breastfeeding, even less access to proper information and medical care, making it much, much worse with much higher rates of death and illness.
So Indonesia’s solution was to make it law that women must breastfeed exclusively for the first six months. It’s a law I’d love to get behind, but it’s not going to help. If you really want to help, kick out Nestle. Tell them, just like in South Africa, to get the hell out and stop lying to moms — their babies are literally dying because Nestle lies to the mothers.
Of course, Nestle pretends it’s all untrue:
Nestle, one of the biggest players in Indonesia’s infant food industry, told the BBC: “We strongly disagree with any such accusation that Nestle actively and aggressively promotes our infant formula products in Indonesia.
“Nestle believes that breast milk is best for babies, and we support exclusive breastfeeding for six months from the baby’s birth.”
The statement goes on to say that Nestle also provides breastfeeding rooms in their offices, and breastfeeding posters to health institutions.
Uh huh. Right. Peter Braybeck at his best, or his new Indonesian counterpart. You know all the jokes about lawyers and sharks? I think Nestle seeks out the most aggressive, slick sharks they can, and sadly, people often buy the snake oil they’re selling (how many more cliches can I put in one sentence?).
But regardless, Indonesia is going about this all wrong. It’s ridiculous to punish women for failing at breastfeeding while you still allow formula companies to brainwash medical professionals and mothers. The first step to helping women breastfeed isn’t to tell them they have to or they’ll go to jail — it’s to prevent companies like Nestle from being able to lie to them and lead them astray in the first place.
And let me just say that the Nestle boycott is going strong still… and I see it picking up momentum as more and more people learn that they’ve never changed their tactics… and apparently also refuse to learn.