We exposed in our Update 37 newsletter in December 2005 how Tom Levitt MP (High Peak) defended Nestlé's baby food marketing activities when questioned over accepting free tickets to the Wimbledon tennis competition.
Now he has topped that by going on a Nestlé-funded jolly to South Africa and writing in glowing terms about Nestlé support for an HIV charity and for, so he says, cleaning up its baby food marketing business.
You can see the article in the Buxton Advertiser at:
I have sent the following message to the newspaper and direct to Mr. Levitt with an invitation to meet so we can provide him with objective and accurate information about Nestlé practices.
---Letter for publication
It would appear that Tom Levitt MP was taken in by Nestlé misinformation on his recent jolly to Africa as the company's guest. He writes: "Thirty years ago Nestlé's practices in marketing infant formula inappropriately were condemned across the world. Today they have cleaned up their act. Their marketing and distribution practices are tougher and tighter even than international agreements require." Sorry Tom, but this is utter rubbish as the results of a global monitoring project with evidence from 67 countries demonstrated in the report Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules, published in November 2007. This shows Nestlé continues to break international marketing standards in a systematic way and is the worst of the baby food companies. Perhaps you didn't notice and Nestlé didn't tell you, but as you were enjoying Nestlé hospitality, it was promoting formula with prohibited advertising in supermarkets in South Africa - I am sending you an example found in Johannesburg in December 2007. Such shelf talkers are a clear violation of the World Health Assembly marketing requirements for breastmilk substitutes, as are the health claims on the labels.
Campaigns and Networking Coordinator
Baby Milk Action
Here is the shelf-talker which will feature on our March 2008 Campaign for Ethical Marketing action sheet.
Article 5.1 of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes states: "There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the general public of products within the scope of this Code."
To make it even clearer, Article 5.3 states: "In conformity with paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article, there should be no point-of-sale advertising..."
Nestlé breaks the Code.
For information on how Nestlé is exploiting the HIV tragedy for its own financial gain, see:
The above shelf talker was found in Johannesburg in December 2008, the same town where Mr. Levitt visited at Nestlé expense.
His entry in the UK Parliament's Register of Members Interests states: "7-14 February 2008, to South Africa, looking at corporate social responsibility. Flights, accommodation and other costs, in Cape Town and Johannesburg, paid for by Nestlé UK."
Other MPs accepting Nestlé hospitality in the current register are:
David Gauke (Hertfordshire South West): 4 July 2007, my wife and I were guests of Nestlé Waters at Wimbledon.
Siân James (Swansea East): 7-14 February 2008, to South Africa, looking at corporate social responsibility. Flights, accommodation and other costs, in Cape Town and Johannesburg, paid for by Nestlé UK.
Linda Riordan (Halifax): 7-14 February 2008, study tour of South Africa, looking at corporate responsibility. Flights, accommodation and other costs, in Cape Town and Johannesberg, paid for by Nestlé UK.