I just read over the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and I am shocked. Once again. I will copy here the article 5, intitled “The general public and mothers”:
5.1 There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the general public of products within the scope of this Code (my note: these include breastmilk substitutes, including infant formula; other milk products; feeding bottles and teats).
5.2. Manufacturers and distributors should not provide, directly or indirectly, to pregnant women, mothers or members of their families, samples of products within the scope of this Code.
5.3. In conformity with paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article, there should be no point-of-sale advertising, giving of samples, or any other promotion device to induce sales directly to the consumer at the retail level, such as special displays, disount coupons, premiums, special sales, loss-leaders and tie-in sales, for products within the scope of this Code. This provision should not restrict the establishment of pricing policies and practices intended to provide products at lower prices on a long-term basis.
5.4 Manufacturers and distributors should not distribute to pregnant women or mothers of infants and young children any gifts of articles or utensils which may promote the use of breastmilk substitutes or bottle-feeding.
5.5 Marketing personnel, in their business capacity, should not seek direct or indirect contact of any kind with pregnant women or with mothers of infants and young children.
I knew this, but the marketing of breastmilk substitutes is so all over the place that after a while I tend to forget the code and accept the marketing of breastmilk substitutes as almost normal. For example, I was at the gym this weekend and saw a mom with an infant who was carrying the best tactical backpack for the money with the BabyNestlé logo on it. Part of me was saying, oh, that’s nice, a free backpack. And another was saying: NO, IT IS NOT NICE. There is a good reason why “presents” from the formula companies are forbidden by the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, and it is the same reason why the formula companies give them away: freebies from the formula companies interfere with the protection and promotion of breastfeeding.
I wonder when the governments who have signed the WHO Code will abide by it (as a reminder, Canada signed it in 1981).