10th April 2019
A new report has found that Nestle, the global market leader for infant milk products for under ones, has not fulfilled expressed commitments to remove vanilla compounds from certain products, and to remove contradictory nutritional advice on sucrose and vanilla flavourings.
This report follows on from the publication of Busting the myth of science-based formula (2018), revisiting Nestlé’s infant milk products and claims. In response to the 2018 report, Nestlé committed to making three changes to its infant formula ranges – removing sucrose and vanilla compounds from all its products for babies aged under 12 months, and removing contradictory nutritional advice on sucrose and vanilla flavourings. At the time of publication of the report, only one of these commitments (removing sucrose compounds) has been fulfilled.
Researchers also found that Nestlé continues to draw comparisons between its products and human milk, a practice which comes under the scope of the Code.
The report also looks at the premiumisation of Nestle’s products and pricing strategies, with a focus on the Asian market. Feeding a 2–3-month-old baby for one month with the most expensive Nestlé formula in Hong Kong would cost a family approximately 3.6 times more than feeding a child with their most expensive formula in the UK.
The report concludes that Nestlé continues to use science as a marketing tool, valuing high profit margins over scientific credibility. The authors call upon on Nestlé to fulfil its potential as a market leader in the breastmilk substitutes (BMS) industry and ensure it truly utilises scientific research to create the best products for infant nutrition.
Sue Ashmore, Director of the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative, said, “We know from our work in the UK that new mothers and families need more support and access to independent information – right from the very start – however they choose to feed their babies. There are dozens of infant milks on the supermarket shelves, many making claims of health-giving properties or the ability to control hunger, sleep, reflux, etc. There is little scientific evidence to back up these marketing claims – if a formula ingredient was definitely beneficial for infant health it would be in all infant formula by law. We urgently need better legislation to protect families from these misleading marketing claims, and better promotion of evidence based, unbiased information about infant feeding.”
The Guardian has also reported on Nestle’s practice of adding vanillin to certain products (see full article).
Access the full report: Based on Science? Revisiting Nestlé’s infant milk products and claims