Nestle's Infant Formula Disaster

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Nestle made an effort to expand their product globally it decided to send representatives to third world countries and dressing up those representatives in white nurse outfits, thus giving the implication that they were trained medical personnel. They gave free samples of formula to hospitals and area health workers, Nestle gave gifts to encourage these healthcare institutions to promote their baby formula to nursing mothers.

The basis for the crisis is that over one million infants had died. The fact is not that the formula was killing babies in these Third World countries, the fact is that mothers of these dying infants were not using potable water when mixing the formula and not sterilizing baby bottles and nipples, thus causing sickness and disease and death in the infants. Some of these infants were lactose intolerant so their systems were rejecting the infant formula. (Iml, 2006) The mothers in these countries were not shown the proper way to utilize the infant formula and sterilize their baby’s bottles. Also, the formula being sold in these countries was and still is very expensive, averaging 40 to 50 percent of the households’ income, forcing the mothers’ to dilute the formula in order to conserve formula and money. Nestle also promoted free formula to breastfeeding mothers knowing that in time the formula provided to them will run out while their breast milk also dried up thus inducing the infants mothers to buy more of the formula that now their infants were being accustomed to drink. (Earlham.edu, 2006)In the crisis of the Nestle infant formula many policies were violated. Advertising of their product inside clinics, lack of information, instruction and manipulation of the market are some. Bribery and gifts to health institutions for promoting their infant formula inside their clinics but they would also receive lower prices of other Nestle products purchased by the hospitals. And the most recurrent violation of Nestle was to the International Code, in this industry, was the practice of donating infant formula to hospitals for exchange of future promoting promises with them. (Multinational Monitor.org).

It was proven that the marketing campaigns employed by the Nestle Corporation were deceptive in nature. They utilized women that worked for the Nestle formula company, dressed up as nurses and were giving unreliable and unsolicited medical advice to mothers with infants while promoting heavily the infant formula. These company workers were also handing out free samples of their product, hoping that in the time frame that the infant would try it out the mothers breast milk would dry up, and then they would be forced to continue to purchase the high priced baby formula. (Shalom, p167) They were also telling mothers that their own breast milk was “inadequate & inappropriate” and they were “unsuccessfully giving it to their infant children. (Third World Traveler, 2006)The crisis was not handled correctly. There was an international boycott spanning 41 countries with groups such as Infant Formula Action Coalition (INFACT) and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). The boycott worldwide was formed in 1977 for the most unethical of several companies selling infant formula at the time. Consumers across the globe stopped purchasing Nestle products due to their involvement of the third world formula scandal. The World Health Organization (WHO) drafted the International Code on the Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, which was signed by many of the world leaders in its early draft; the only opposition was of the U.S. The U.S. Representative finally agreed to sign in 1994. (WHO Int. 2006) Nestle did not manage the situation ethically, they did not inform their consumers of the Third World countries on how to use the formula and, they did not take the infant formula off the market when the crisis erupted. They continued promoting the formula in hospitals and health institutions. Until recent years,...
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