The baby food, feeding bottle and teat industry is becoming increasingly aggressive in targeting health workers. While health workers may think they will not be influenced, the companies think differently and spend heavily believing they will secure brand endorsements. Say NO to formula company sponsorship – independent sources of information are available. Parents have a right to accurate, independent information on infant feeding.
You can find a list of forthcoming events with conflicts of interest below. We tell you how to show your independence. Contact us if you have any events to add to the list. Scroll down for further information on this campaign.
Events with conflicts of interest
Nestlé is targeting health workers with SMA product promotions at hotels. Join a protest.
Why to say NO to formula company sponsorship
Marketing has become noticeably more aggressive in the UK since Nestlé entered the market with the takeover of the SMA brand in 2012. Nestlé has recruited a network of nutrition representatives (offered £40k/year + bonus) to target the National Health Service: “Working with the NHS at a territory level, you’ll be developing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with key stakeholders and opinion leaders to support brand endorsement and strategically aligned education for Healthcare Professionals.”
Companies organise study days to bypass the restrictions many health facilities have on representatives meeting with staff (UNICEF Baby Friendly guidelines say product information should be passed to a designated expert for assessment and only what is necessary and accurate communicated to other staff).
These study days, sponsorship and stalls at conferences are not altruism, they are for brand promotion. According to the job description: “your role is to work on the designated territory, visiting hospitals, doctors, health visitors and community midwives to develop key clinical relationships within your local health Economies, leading to opportunities for the SMA brand and Nestlé Nutrition.”
Danone and more recently Hipp are doing the same. The Guardian newspaper courted controversy by organising a Danone-sponsored roundtable and article, which The Readers’ Editor concluded was “a mistake” when he was asked to investigate.
Such events violate World Health Assembly Resolutions. For example, Resolution 58.32 states:
‘ensure that financial support and other incentives for programmes and health professionals working in infant and young-child health do not create conflicts of interest.’
Contact us when you hear of sponsored events. We will create an “I’m NOT Going” event on Facebook and link to the Twitter hashtag. We can also provide leaflets if you want to distribute these to participants as they arrive to tell them about their sponsors history of misleading health workers and parents, and breaking marketing rules.
If there is an event where you feel you have to attend because it is organised by your organisation, then why not demonstrate your independence with “Say NO to formula company sponsorship” stickers, keyring and other items?