Why Nestle Sucks

There’s been a bit of hoo ha on the internets recently about Nestle, (see here and here for some background), and I was reminded of something I saw in an Indonesian supermarket.


Yup – chocolate milk, marketed for infants, with a free sippy cup.

6 thoughts on “Why Nestle Sucks”

  1. The product range that that nestle (and some others) market, in some countries where less stringent regulations are maintained, is appalling. The thing is, people really believe that a product, specifically “formulated” for infants or toddlers must be nutritionally appropriate for them. These companies set themselves up in a huge position of trust and power and then claim they have no idea. Makes me ill.


  2. I’ve read the linked articles. I’m absolutely supportive of breastfeeding – particularly for the first 6 months – whenever it’s possible. I’ve also been scandalised by Nestle’s arguments for formula feeding for over 30 years. However, an article that contains the line ‘When women choose to formula feed in developing countries…’ makes me bristle. Some women in developing countries may make this choice. But many women in developing countries have no other feasible option – wrong and bad as it is for the baby. I’ve known and known of women whose own nutrition is so marginal that breastfeeding is impossible, difficult, or dangerous to their own health. I’ve also known women whose own (usually badly paid) work is so necessary for their family’s survival that they have no option but to leave their baby with relatives to care for. For these women there is no choice but to use formula (often horrendously diluted and made up with polluted water).

    Nestle and its advertising cannot be defended, but to have relatively advantaged people from developed nations presenting this as a matter of choice for women in developing countries runs the risk of portraying the women in developing countries as stupid, or dupes, or uncaring. It also does no good for the women who have no choice in present circumstances but to use formula. As always, it’s a complex problem that calls for far-reaching and complex solutions.


    1. You’re right Lyn, choice is the wrong word to use in this context – but the issue is such a complex one that it is impossible to cover all the detail in a short article. Though I can say that having just read (mostly) “The Politics of Breastfeeding”, the issue of what women in developing nations feed their babies is an important one, because it has such huge implications for child health and mortality.

      And when women have no choice but to use diluted artificial baby milk with dirty water, then this issue goes beyond an argument about how to feed babies, and becomes an issue of human rights.


    2. Just one more note – the use of the word “possible” is also not great in this context. So many women in our culture say that they “couldn’t” breastfeed, that breastfeeding wasn’t possible, and yet this phenomena is very recent. In fact, women being unable to breastfeed seemed to happen when commercially available milk substitutes became available. Where ABM (artificial baby milk) is not available, all women breastfeed. If a woman was unable to breastfeed (through illness etc), there will be a sister, and aunt, a neighbor, that is lactating and able to wet nurse the baby.

      About 1 in 10,000 women are completely unable to breastfeed. More can’t because their baby has a cleft palate, or downs syndrome for example – but with proper support many of them will be able to express and feed expressed breast milk. If they want to.

      Basically, if you find breastfeeding hard, and you choose not to do it, fair enough. Totally. I’d prefer that you have all the information about the risks of artificial baby milk, but I’ll support any woman’s right to choose how to parent her baby. But I do think that a) we need to support women in their parenting journey, and that includes supporting them to breastfeed if you want to, and b) if you found breastfeeding hard and choose to stop, call it like it is – say “I found it really hard and decided to stop”, not “I couldn’t breastfeed”.

      Every woman who is confronted with these issues deserves our compassion and support, but unfortunately, the passion of those of us that are interested in the field can sometimes mean that we are less than respectful to those whose opinions differ. Though I am aware that some of the things that I say on this blog may seem inflammatory, I would hope that nobody takes it personally!


  3. *Ewww*

    Reminds me of some disposable nappies I saw in Sri Lanka “Can hold up to seven wettings!!!” Yay… (And when they cost as much over there as they do here, but incomes are up to 100 times less…)


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