Baby formula companies are receiving backlash for using aggressive lobbying marketing strategies to boost sales of $55 billion a year. These companies go to an extent that the products contained in the infant formula has similar taste and characteristics as of an actual breast milk.
The US infant formula supply has been batched since a recall by Abbott Laboratories that was linked to contaminated products led to a nationwide shortage.
“The formula milk industry uses poor science to suggest, with little supporting evidence, that their products are solutions to common infant health and developmental challenges,” said Linda Richter, a developmental psychologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
None of the biggest makers of infant formula being Nestle SA, Abbott, Reckitt Benckiser Group, Danone SA, China Feihe Ltd. and Dutch dairy cooperative Royal FrieslandCampina were directly accused of unethical marketing or lobbying by the international coalition of researchers as the reports reviewed 153 studies to show how marketing practices have violated the WHO’s code in nearly 100 countries since its 1981 adoption.
Nestle said it fully complies with the code and doesn’t promote formula for infants up to 6 months, Danone also said it has voluntarily extended its prohibition on promotion for infants up to 12 months old. Reckitt said it’s complying with all local laws and regulations, and FrieslandCampina said it complies with national legislation implementing the code.
Formula makers claim without evidence that their products can ease infants’ discomfort or improve sleep, intelligence or brain development, one of the reports said, without singling out manufacturers or products.