Companies

‘Baby food majors misleading mothers’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 31, 2013 Published on July 31, 2013

DISTURBING TREND





At a time when the Government is harping on the benefits of breastfeeding, infant health organisations on Wednesday alleged that baby food majors, such as Heinz, Nestle and Abbott, were misleading mothers.

At a press conference here, the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India and the International Baby Food Action Network, Asia, alleged that these companies were “violating the Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution Act, 1992 and Amendment Act 2003”.

Kunal Bagchi, World Health Organisation’s regional advisor of nutrition, said, “Introducing cereal foods to a child before six months displaces mother’s milk and can lead to serious health risks, including diarrhoea.” The organisations cited the example of Heinz’s cereal food Oat and Apple to be given at ‘4+ months’, as stated on the label on its container and various Web sites. “It is also offering free gifts, discounts and loyalty schemes to mothers for using the Web site, which is banned under law.”

“The Nestle Nutrition Institute was also continuing to organise doctors meetings despite objections from the Government of India….Abbott meanwhile is using claims of brain development to promote its ‘Similac advance infant formula stage 1’ for babies up to 6 months of age and ‘Similac infant formula stage 1’ for 0-6 months age,” the organisations alleged at the joint press conference.

Arun Gupta, member of the Prime Minister’s Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges, said, “This is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s high time that the Government of India put effective enforcement machinery in place to monitor and implement Infant Milk Substitutes Act right at the district level and State level.”

The IMS Act bans all kinds of promotion for 0-2 years of age of baby foods and feeding bottles, including advertisements, inducements on sales, pecuniary benefits to doctors or their associations including sponsorship, commission to salesmen, and prescribes labelling requirements.

> aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

Published on July 31, 2013
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