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Nestlé in the McSpotlight

| What's Wrong With Nestlé? | Opposition & Campaigns | Company Profile |

Nestlé company has interests in dozens of countries and is perhaps best known for its food products, breakfast cereals and coffee. Nestlé also has a majority interest in the L'Oréal cosmetics company. The biggest criticism of Nestlé is the complete disregard for the health of infants shown by its irresponsible marketing of breast milk substitutes. A major international boycott is in effect for this marketing, and for its continued breaches of the 1981 WHO Code regulating the marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Nestlé is part of the Baby Milk industry.

It is not only the specific practices of individual companies that cause problems. The attitudes created by the currrent system of exploitation gives power and profits to the few, at the expense of people, animals and the environment. It is important to expose the unethical practices of specific companies as their behaviour is often indicative of the entire system.

What's Wrong With Nestlé?
Immoral Marketing

Irresponsible marketing

Nestlé holds about 50% of the world's breast milk substitute market and is being boycotted for continued breaches of the 1981 WHO Code regulating the marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Nestlé encourages bottle feeding primarily by either giving away free samples of baby milk to hospitals, or neglecting to collect payments. It has been criticised for misinforming mothers and health workers in promotional literature. Nestlé implies that malnourished mothers, and mothers of twins and premature babies are unable to breastfeed, despite health organisations claims that there is no evidence to support this.

Evidence of direct advertising to mothers has been found in over twenty countries such as South Africa and Thailand. Instructions and health warnings on packaging are often either absent, not prominently displayed or in an inappropriate language. All of these actions directly contravene the Code regulating the marketing of baby milk formulas.

Even in the UK, bottle-fed babies are up to ten times more likely to develop gastro intestinal infections, but in the Third World, where clean water may be absent, mothers may be illiterate and independent health care and advice may be lacking, bottle feeding can be more dangerous. This can lead to a situation where bavies are left vulnerable to dysentery, malnutrition and death, and Nestle is able to retain its estimated $4 billion market share in the baby-milk industry.
[Baby Milk Action, Action Pack, March 1993] [Breaking the Rules (IBFAN 1991)] [State of the Code by Company (IOCU 1991)] [Baby Milk Action, Newsletter Summer 1989] [Baby Milk Action Update, July 1992, November 1991, September 1991]]

Workers' Rights

Exploiting employees

In 1989 workers at a Nestlé chocolate plant in Cacapava, Brazil went on strike. The wprkers compained of poor working conditions, including discrimination against women, lack of protective clothing and inadequate safety condition. Within two months of the beginning of the stike the company had sacked forty of its workers, including most of the strike organisers.

[The Global Consumer - Phil Wells & Mandy Jetter (New Consumer/Gollancz 1991)]

Oppresive Regimes

Supporting brutal / repressive regimes

Nestlé has subsidiaries in Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Turkey. The company also has subsidaries in South Africa which it owned during the Apartheid year. L'Oréal adds Peru and Morocco to the list.
[Who Owns Who 1992, D&B]

Animal Suffering

Abusing animals

Nestlé own nearly 50% of the cosmetics company L'Oreal. L'Oreal was subject to boycott calls from animal rights groups including PeTA because of its animal testing policy. Since then L'Oreal has claimed that it no longer tests finished products on animals. This statement is obviously intended to mislead since finished products do not require further testing and it implies that the ingredients are certainly still subject to tests. Some groups called off the boycott in response to L'Oreals' claims, however there are individuals and organisations who continue the boycott and L'Oreal continues to test on animals.

Nestléitself manufactures products containing meat and has been critised by BUAV for testing its coffee's carcinogenicity on mice.
[Liberator, Summer 1991]

Credits and References: Most of the information in this section was taken from The Ethical Consumer Guide to Everyday Shopping  published by the Ethical Consumer Research Association. 

Opposition and Campaigns

Exploitation and profiteering do not need to exist. A better way of running our lives can be created based on the sharing of resources and on respect for each other and for nature. Increasingly people are questioning and challenging those with power and are seeking alternatives. Let's hope it's possible to make a difference.

Company ProfileProducts and brandnames:

Contact details:
Postal Address(es):
Nestlé SA
Avenue Nestlé
CH Vevey, Switxerland

Nestlé UK
St Georges House

Phone number(s):
+44 (0)181 686 3333

Fax number(s):
not known
Online presence:

Email address(es): rforre@nestle.uu.ch
Web site(s): http://www.nestle.com/
Domain name(s): nestle.com

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