Q and A with Mike Brady from Baby Milk Action

(327 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 06-Dec-10 14:05:33

We're inviting you to send in your questions to Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action.

Mike graduated in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and has worked in Africa as an engineer and science teacher. At Baby Milk Action, he monitors the baby food industry and campaigns to hold them to account.

Baby Milk Action is a non-profit organisation which aims to save lives and to end the avoidable suffering caused by inappropriate infant feeding. It is the UK member of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), a network of over 200 citizens groups in more than 100 countries.

Baby Milk Action's slogan is: "Protecting breastfeeding - Protecting babies fed on formula". It is perhaps best known for promoting a boycott of Nestlé, but also works with national governments and international bodies on regulations and marketing standards.

Mike was seen earlier this year outside Nestlé (UK) HQ in the guise of Mr. Henry Nastie, explaining Nestlé's marketing practices.

Send your questions in to Mike before midday on Friday 9th December and we'll link through to his answers from this thread later the following week.

OP’s posts: |
lyns12 Mon 06-Dec-10 16:15:31

Hi Mike.
My question is what you would suggest to a mother who does not want to use formula but still requires, for whatever reason, milk to supplement her own?

HermyaTheRedNosedReindeer Mon 06-Dec-10 16:19:11

Hi Mike,

I've come across some health care professionals who aren't as clued up on breastfeeding as what they are on formula feeding. It seems that the information is so readily available to those who want to find it, do you think there is any way of correcting the inbalance that seems to exist in some quarters?

scrappydappydoo Mon 06-Dec-10 18:10:21

Do you think the boycott of nestle is having an impact. I haven't brought nestle products for 10 years but sometimes wonder if its worth it as they are such a huge company - not sure if little old me makes much of dent (not that I'll stop the boycott)..

Lactivist Mon 06-Dec-10 18:12:43

Hi Mike - How can I get across to people that it is important to boycott Nestle - my sons school seem to think it is something that happens abroad and nothing to do with us.
Lisa Lactivist

marzipananimal Mon 06-Dec-10 18:21:57

Doesn't the advertising of follow on milk (from 6 months) break the Code given that it's a breastmilk substitute? How come companies get away with doing this in the UK?

sungirltan Mon 06-Dec-10 18:33:26

being about to finish reading 'the politics of breastfeeding' i am all about the nestle boycott.

my question is, do you think the dangers of formula feeding are actively downplayed by the media/health profession?


MilaMae Mon 06-Dec-10 19:01:12

Hi Mike

Do you think the use of formula in developed countries is over demonized in order to protest against it's use in 3rd world countries?

Can you see how this alienates many parents and do you think a different approach would be more beneficial?

MissLouby Mon 06-Dec-10 20:29:17

Hi Mike,

As a breastfeeding mother and also a breastfeeding peer supporter in my local area, the lack of knowledge about formula seems commonplace for many mothers.

What concerns me most isn't what is in formula milk but what isn't in formula milk. For example, there is no lipase, DHA, cholesterol etc.

My question is, do you think the differences between breast milk and formula should this be labelled near the ingredients on formula cartons so mothers know what their babies are missing if they choose not to breastfeed?

RJandA Mon 06-Dec-10 20:38:08

Hi Mike

Here on mumsnet, there are regular threads from new mums seeking advice on how to make up powdered formula, and they are regularly advised that it's fine to mix powder with cooled boiled water instead of water at 70 degrees. I believe many mums here in the UK are unaware that formula powder is not sterile (including myself, until I started reading these threads).

I feel sure that if this fact was printed on labels, then many children in the UK and worldwide would be healthier. Is this one of your current campaigns, or one that you would consider in the future?

Lulumaam Mon 06-Dec-10 20:40:21

Hi Mike ! Great to see you on MN. I have contacted you several times in the past for advice on reporting discounted baby milk etc.. you are a hero !

Anyhoo.... I am a boycotter of Nestlé and as many of its brands and subsidiaries that I know of via Baby milk action.

When I explain to people why I don't buy certain lipsticks/ coffee/ pet foods etc.. I often get the , ' oh well, people have been boycotting Nestlé for years it makes no difference.. ' or ' What difference does buying one bottle of shampoo / coffee etc.. make '

I need a condensed answer, rather than feeling like I am going on and on and on!

Can you sum up the value of the boycott and why it is worthwhile and should continue in a brief synopsis please ?

thank you very very much

Blatherskite Mon 06-Dec-10 21:12:23

Not very many people seem to know about the boycott, the reasons behind it or the products affected - even while Mumsnet carried the Nestle Boycott logo (what happened about that by the way?) any thread regarding the boycott would inevitably get multiple posts asking what it was all about.

Do you think there is a better way of bringing the boycott to peoples attention?

JeanKelly Mon 06-Dec-10 21:34:25

Hey Mike I have two questions:

1. Why do you think our food safety authorities don't test and approve formula? Surely it should be regulated so it doesn't contain such harmful things; bisphenol-A, aluminum, enterobacter sakazakii and salmonella enterica.

2. A lot of people are unaware of the risks of using formula so cant make an informed decision when deciding how to feed their babies. Do you think formula should be labeled with the health risks like tobacco boxes are?

lowercase Mon 06-Dec-10 23:00:18

Hi Mike,

what drives you to carry on campaigning?

what has been the single most posotive/encouraging change you have seen during your campaign?


WelshCerys Mon 06-Dec-10 23:58:59

Hi Mike
Saw unmarked bottles of water being delivered to my high street bank a while ago - but taken from a Nestle container. Clearly the bank is sensitive to the campaign, else why the unmarked bottles?
Is this worth doing much about? Writing to the head of social responsibility, or something?
It's mineral water, but it's still Nestle.
Best wishes.

snugglepops Tue 07-Dec-10 05:10:26

Hi Mike,

I am interested in inappropriate formula feeding during disasters and the aftermath, such as Haiti.

How do we ensure that aid money we give is not used to provide formula and thereby increase the suffering or babies and children at such a difficult point of their lives?

Is formula safe only in countries with good water supply, good standard of living, hygiene etc?

HarkTheHeraldEverything Tue 07-Dec-10 10:29:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Gracie123 Tue 07-Dec-10 12:33:17

just bookmarking along with HarkTheHerald for similar reasons blush

CuppaTeaJanice Tue 07-Dec-10 12:58:40

Powdered formula is impossible to make and store in a sterile manner, and therefore liquid formula is theoretically 'safer' in terms of potential hazardous contents.

Why, then, is there no concentrated sterile liquid formula product available on the market which can be diluted with cooled boiled water to provide a safer drink for babies.

Are current liquid sterilization/pasteurisation etc. techniques effective enough to allow a bottle of concentrated liquid formula to be kept in a fridge and used safely for a number of days? Are any formula companies looking into such a product or would it not be viable?

TruthSweet Tue 07-Dec-10 14:16:52

CuppaTeaJAnice - liquid concentrate is currently available in the US, it is generally available in 13oz containers and can be kept in a fridge for 48 hours.

This paper discusses how to increase the calorific content of formula with out increasing the renal solute loads (the amount of Na, Cl, K & P that the kidneys can process safely) and part of the paper looks into the variations in formula powder amounts in each scoop (range of 40.5 - 50.9kcals per scoop so the actual amount in the scoop was not consistent). The author recommended using liquid formula when accuracy was needed (so that's all the time then?) as it is easy to prepare (1:1 ratio of concentrate to water)

Himalaya Tue 07-Dec-10 15:07:53

Do you think that the other baby milk companies that also violate the marketing code are relieved that the singular focus of the campaign on Nestle takes the heat off them?

Is there any competition amongst baby milk companies to be recognised and seen as the most ethical in marketing, or do they all keep their heads down to stay out of the way of bad publicity?

Trubert Tue 07-Dec-10 16:03:59

I try so hard to engage positively with breastfeeding, including boycotting Nestle and being a source of encouragement and information for mothers who are breastfeeding.

Then I read a comment like this

'combatting the 'formula is as good - happy mummy happy baby' mantra'

and find myself unable to read any more of the thread.

I will leave you to it. I don't want hear any more of this sort of thinking.

CuppaTeaJanice Tue 07-Dec-10 16:20:14

Thanks Truthsweet. Why is concentrated liquid formula not available in the UK then? I would have found it very useful, both in large fridge packs and individual sachets when out and about.

TruthSweet Tue 07-Dec-10 16:30:36

CuppaTeaJanice - I suppose it's because it is more expensive to manufacture/ship/store and the formula market in the UK isn't as massive as in the US (only 1% of babies exclusively bf to 6m. not withstanding). It is also marketed (along with RTF formula) as more suitable for newborns. The biggest risk with it is that a caregiver may accidentally not dilute it before feeding it to a baby.

Individual sachets of conc. formula would be really handy to have in a change bag along with a bottle of sterile water and a disposable baby bottle in case of emergencies/staying out later than planned.

As an epileptic mother that would have been really useful to have knocking about in the change bag in case of a seizure meaning I couldn't feed baby. Touch wood I've never been in that position with an under 6m baby so have never needed it but still would have been useful (can you imagine how much EBM I'd have thrown away if I took out a pumped bottle each tome I went outshock)

lagrandissima Tue 07-Dec-10 16:32:27

My question is:
Do you work with schools to raise awareness of issues around the formula industry? Do you think it might be useful to educate future parents at an early age about the pros/cons of formula/BFing?

Also, just wanted to say thank you for standing up to the big corporations. Shame our politicians don't have the balls to.

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