Wrong tactics

Published: Saturday 15 February 1997

baby food manufacturers have been found guilty of violating international codes which seek to safeguard infants' health. A study released recently by the Interagency Group on Breastfeeding Monitoring, a coalition of 27 health and development groups in the uk, found that many companies regularly breach domestic and international regulations on the marketing and distribution of breast-milk substitutes in developing countries.

The code for baby food was adopted in 1981 by the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization. It states that mothers should be guarded from the promotional activities of manufacturers and distributors of breast-milk substitutes. The study, however, found that many large manufacturers provide free samples and visit clinics to promote their products. The companies include the Swiss concerns Nestl and Gerber, Mead Johnson and Wyeth of the us and Nutricia of the Nether-lands. The United Nations Children's Fund recently accused producers of artificial milk of endangering the health of infants by discouraging breast-feeding and urged countries to enact laws agai-nst the promotion of powdered milk.

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