HEALA denounces Nestlé for violating advertising on formulas

The advocacy group, Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA), has set up a campaign warning the public of Nestlé’s “blatant disregard” for children’s health.

He claims the food giants have violated Regulation 991 relating to foodstuffs for infants and young children with their NIDO 3+ milk powder.

What is R991?

The #SayNoToNido campaign comes in response to Nestlé’s Nido +3 Masterclass #Childhoodmoments which was hosted on Facebook on July 30, two days before World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). Heala said after failing to get the event canceled on social media, the campaign was their way of trying to get Nestlé’s attention. She also wanted to raise public awareness of the violation of the Food, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act or R991 which concerns foodstuffs for infants and young children.

The R991 under the sale and promotion prohibits any promotional practice or advertising of infant formula, follow-on formula and infant formula or follow-on formula for special dietary or medical purposes among others, that the Minister may publish by notice in the Official Journal.

HEALA Nutrition Program Manager Angelika Grimbeek explained in more detail.

“Nestlé has many Nido products that start with Nido Stage 1+ for toddlers 1-3 years (a follow-up formula listed in 7(1)) so although NIDO 3+ is outside the scope of the R991, cross-promotion or advertising of Nido’s brand name is not permitted,” she said.

Infant formula producers target social media users

Grimbeek said e-health that the Facebook Nido +3 event was also a blatant disregard of the World Health Organization (WHO) study which found that infant formula producers were using inappropriate tactics. They include paid social media platforms and influencers to gain access to pregnant women and mothers.

The WHO has reported that the $55 billion global formula industry is targeting new mothers with personalized social media content that is not often recognized as advertising. This has been done through apps, virtual support groups or baby clubs, paid social media influencers, promotions and contests, and forums or counseling services. With at least 90 posts per day on their social media accounts, 229 million users were reached daily.

The #ChildhoodMoments masterclass was seen by 434 Facebook users.

Breastfeeding efforts undermined

HEALA has acknowledged these repetitive tactics aimed at undermining the breastfeeding protection and support efforts employed by Nestlé. He said the Facebook session was also scheduled to coincide with WBW.

The organization further stated that the formula industry exploits vulnerable mothers who sometimes rely on R480’s Child Support Grant (CSG) using strategies that undermine their trust and induce them to trust it (milk industry mothered).

Grimbeek said: “The violation of this regulation and the continued marketing of their products leads to a decrease in the number of children being breastfed. It also promotes the introduction of a child’s first taste of ultra-processed foods and is unethical, especially in a country where many mothers have to stretch their resources.

Nestlé responds

Saint-Francis Tohlang, director of corporate communications and public affairs for the Eastern and Southern Africa region at Nestlé, said the global company supports various programs to promote breastfeeding.

The WHO recommendation for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months was one such program. As well as the introduction of adequate nutritious complementary foods and sustained breastfeeding up to two years of age and beyond.

“We comply with the WHO Code and World Health Assembly resolutions as a minimum. In addition, we comply with SA 7(1)(b) regulations relating to foodstuffs for infants and young children (R991),” Tohlang explained.

On top of that, Nestlé had a robust compliance system which, according to Tohlang, was the reason the company was one of the top two companies in the world. Access to Nutrition Index of Breastmilk Substitutes and Complementary Foods since its creation in 2016 and is part of the FTSE4Good Index since 2011.

According to the company, the information shared during the Nido+3 Masterclass was not related to the products covered by the requirements of R991. Nido+3 was also not a substitute for breast milk.

“We use differentiated communication and messaging, including product suffixes, to demonstrate the product’s intended age range and appropriate use,” Tohlang added.

Strengthen regulation

Department of Health spokesman Foster Mohale said the department was currently working to strengthen R991 to address the loopholes companies were taking advantage of through cross-promotion.

Michael explained that when the regulations were published in 2012, there were no preparations for children over the age of three.

Although the department has taken action against companies that broke regulations, these were not legal actions.

“The practice is that once a violation is reported, the company or person who broke the regulations is contacted and asked to rectify any violations that have occurred,” he said.

Mohale added: “Usually violators comply so no one/company has ever been brought to justice. If the company or individual continues to repeat the same violation or commits any other violation, the department will take legal action.

Members of the public are also encouraged to report R991 violations by emailing [email protected] – Health-e News