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After Nestlé, Aptamil involved in breast milk scandal ...

(22 Posts)
Cecilia1963 Sun 30-Jun-13 20:12:21

Well done to Mumsnet for saying 'boycot' Nestlé.

Next - Should we apply same pressure to Danone, makers of Aptamil, for - apparently/allegedly - misleading Turkish mothers to use (i.e., buy) their powdered baby milk to make up shortfall?
(See Independent Article, Sat 29 June):

CaptainKirksNipples Sun 30-Jun-13 22:28:43


SirDoris Mon 01-Jul-13 06:12:20

I think Baby Milk Action have been on Danone's case for a while. They're campaigning on this.

MrsFoodie Tue 02-Jul-13 12:38:15

This is awfull and needs more media attention than its getting.. This company are misleading mothers, and profiting at the expense of infant health.. Its disgusting.. Governments need to do more, can't believe they are using WHO and Unicef logo's without permission, makes me so angry.. I will be boycotting Danone..

lurcherlover Tue 02-Jul-13 12:46:15

I started boycotting Danone when that hideous advert for Aptamil came out (the mum bfing in a cold, grey room, looking all sad, and then "choosing to move on" and hey presto, it's sunny, she's smiling and she's done her hair nicely). This news is disgusting. What vile companies they are.

FrozenNorthPole Wed 03-Jul-13 11:13:52

Yes, like lurcherlover I've been boycotting Danone for a while, the bottom line is that the companies profit when breastfeeding fails / ceases. So they will do whatever it take to help that happen. Can't believe that more people don't see this.

Solopower1 Thu 04-Jul-13 07:57:43

My daughter's baby is 6 months old and she's just started supplementing some feeds with Aptamil, as she did with her first child.

What other breast milk supplements are there (avoiding anything by Nestle)?

Wonderstuff Thu 04-Jul-13 10:47:43

I don't think Nestlé sell formula in the UK. I personally, with my first used HIPP, because at least organic milk respects the cows. But really there isn't often a need to use formula at all. You don't need to supplement breast milk with formula.

lurcherlover Thu 04-Jul-13 10:55:41

Nestlé now own SMA.

There aren't any bm supplements other than formula, sadly, and all of them have very dodgy marketing practices sad

Wonderstuff Thu 04-Jul-13 10:57:37

Just to add I used formula when I was at work because I couldn't express well, routinely supplementing breast milk with formula will reduce supply of breast milk, there is no evidence that babies need breast milk supplemented with formula, introducing solid food at 6 months is fine.

Disgusting that they have created this need for products and that they seem to have government support, the cynic in me wonders how much that cost them.

Wonderstuff Thu 04-Jul-13 10:59:17

Really sad fucking awful company, anyone else see the footage of there CEO explaining how clean water wasn't a human right?

evelynj Thu 04-Jul-13 11:25:08

So for mothers that do need to use formula, (yes, that's right, not everyone can breastfeed succesfully for long for various reasons and they often feel guilty enough about it from the smug bf brigade who have never had any bf issues and who look with disgust on ff), there is no ethical company to buy formula from?

Hipp organic isn't readily available in my town & organic doesn't mean it respects the cows any more than non organic IMO.

I totally agree that the governments need to be managing this better-most companies would push ads to the limit here if it weren't for prohibitive legislation & there is plenty worse going on in other countries that needs to be addressed.

Agree with lurcher that there seemingly aren't any 'good' companies but it's also true that the aptimal add of being depressed while bf & then a relief & sunny times when switching to ff is actually true for a lot of women & the only way to save their sanity. I get really angry seeing the happy smiling mummy bf the newborn in the bf posters as I know so often its not true. To keep bf more support is needed post birth. A session at the hospital telling mums to be the theory just often won't cut it-depending on where you live there can be more support but that often divides opinion & the norm depending on your postcode.

Wonderstuff Thu 04-Jul-13 12:09:04

My reasoning for buying organic is that non-organic cows are pumped with hormones to increase milk production which leads to mastitis in many animals, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Organically produced animal products do mean higher animal welfare.

I personally know of no one who fits the smug bfeeder you describe. I honestly believe the energies of most breast feeding advocates goes in to trying to improve the institutional barriers to breast feeding, more support, better advice, tight regulation of formula companies. No one on this thread is facing a go at formula feeding mothers, formula is an adequate, safe alternative to breast milk. But it costs money and it makes billions of dollars for companies who have and continue to take every opportunity to undermine breast feeding because reduced breast feeding leads directly to increased profits to multinational companies.

I personally had good advice and was able to breastfeed, I would like all mothers to have the opportunity I did. I found I needed confidence and support to feed my baby the way I wanted, I was lucky to have both. I saw recent figures suggesting UK breastfeeding rates have significantly increased in the last 5 years, which means things are moving in the right direction, and breastfeeding, which until quite recently was a rare sight is now becoming more accepted and acceptable.

MrsFoodie Thu 04-Jul-13 12:28:41

I don't think anyone is having a dig a mothers who don't BF (either through choice or not). This is about the ethically practices of large food companies, that purposely mislead and use against the mother, those insecurities that most of us have with regarding providing the best for our children.. They are willing to use what ever means necessary to encourage women not to breastfeed. Which, increase's babies health risk's (this is not an opinion its a scientific fact).
I agree mother's do need more support, particularly straight afterbirth and I think that more research needs to be done to understand why women choose not to in-order to find out how best to support mothers. But this will always be undermined by companies spending millions to mislead mothers unless something is done about it.

MrsFoodie Thu 04-Jul-13 12:32:42

^^ * Ethical

StiffyByng Thu 04-Jul-13 12:59:44

Wonderstuff and others, I actually do have to supplement breast milk. I use donor milk as much as possible but I have no choice but to use formula sometimes. As someone who has supported BMA for 20 years, this puts me in a horribly awkward situation and I hate it.

peanutMD Thu 04-Jul-13 19:02:01

Damn I bought 2 small cartons of Aptimal "just incase" for my 4 month old.

I thought they were ethical and well researched.

Excuse me fur being thick but are any formulas better than others nutritionally?

lurcherlover Thu 04-Jul-13 21:37:40

peanut, no. Nutritionally, formulas are basically the same. Everything else is marketing. Aptamil are very clever: they target women who feel a bit guilty about formula feeding, and professional, educated women. They do this by making it the most expensive, and giving it a "scientific" name and packaging design, and made-up names for ingredients like "immunofortas" or whatever they're calling it. Historically (in the days before the World Health Organisation clamped down on such practices) they also targetted hospitals and midwives directly, persuading them that Aptamil was "closest to breastmilk" and giving them freebies to give out in maternity wards. They're not allowed to do this any more, but even so, the myth about Aptamil being the best formula persists. In actual fact, both Aptamil and Cow and Gate are owned by Danone, and they're basically identical formulas. But C&G has a different target audience - it and SMA are "heritage" brands in Britain (they're like PG Tips or Cadburys - they've been around a long time, people recognise them and therefore trust them). C&G is cheaper and has more cutesy packaging (teddies etc). Its target market are women who are likely to have decided to ff when pregnant and are happy with this choice, and it's likely that their own mothers used the same brand so they feel they "know" it.

All formula manufacturers have very unethical marketing practices (including HIPP - not so much in the UK, but abroad). The WHO Code for breastmilk substitutes bans the advertising of formula worldwide, but this is a voluntary Code (ie relying on individual countries' governments to comply) and very few do. Those that do (eg Norway) have very high breastfeeding rates, so it's clear that advertising is a reason why some women ff rather than bf (obvious really, or companies wouldn't spend billions doing it). The worst is the USA which refuses to ban any formula advertising at all. The UK is a sort of halfway house, in that advertising first stage formula for newborns is banned, but follow-on formula advertising isn't - so manufacturers deliberately make the packaging on all their formulas very similar, so it's not clear that it's not newborn milk being advertised, and use babies as young as they can get away with in the ads. Most people when questioned will say they've seen formula being advertised, and won't have clicked that they've actually only seen follow-on formula being shown.

All of this matters for lots of reasons: obviously it decreases bf rates, and the more babies that are breastfed, the better for society (in terms of overall decreased cost to the NHS) as well as for the individual babies. It matters for ff mums as well, as they're the ones paying for it. A tin of formula is made of cows' milk, vegetable oil, sugar and vitamins. There is no reason at all why it has to cost £10+ for a tin. The fact is, it costs pence to produce and manufacturers could halve their prices tomorrow and still make a profit. It's expensive because they are making parents pay for the advertising, and for the "free" cuddly cows etc that they give away to pregnant and new mums (this is also illegal under the WHO Code, by the way, which expressly forbids manufacturers from approaching mothers directly). What's even more appalling is that mothers in the West are paying for manufacturers to go to third world countries (which don't generally uphold the Code) to give out "free samples" to mothers for whom FF is simply never going to be a safe option - if you can't guarantee a supply of clean water, sterilising equipment, and of course enough formula (which in some countries parents can't afford, so they resort to diluting it too much to make it last longer) then ff can be a death sentence for your baby.

It stinks, and the problem is that because there is no alternative to breastmilk to give a baby other than formula, the manufacturers have got us over a barrel. Personally, I would like to see the UK government upholding the Code and banning all formula advertising, and I'd like it to be sold in plain packaging, which would also make it cheaper. It won't happen, because these companies are too powerful and have too much influence (Nestle in particular).

Sorry, just seen what an essay this is! Enough. I can highly recommend Gabrielle Palmer's book "The Politics of Breastfeeding", which goes into detail about all this. It's a horrifying, but eye-opening read.

ClartyCarol Thu 04-Jul-13 21:48:24

I admire your poster lurcherlover. IMO you're spot on with the reasons women choose Aptamil (I tried to bf all three of my dc but the longest I managed was 6 weeks. I found it a really stressful and fraught time. All three ended up on Aptamil).

ClartyCarol Thu 04-Jul-13 21:49:57

Meant to say in my befuddled, upset state I got it into my head that Aptamil was by far the best.

lurcherlover Thu 04-Jul-13 22:00:07

Of course you did, Clarty. These guys are marketing experts, and it's very, very hard to ignore their messages even when you know they're lies - particularly when you're a vulnerable new mother. I bfed ds but sent him to nursery with cartons of formula as he was a milk monster and I couldn't express enough, and even though I knew in my head that the formulas are all the same, I still felt I "should" buy Aptamil.

evelynj Thu 04-Jul-13 23:42:42

Lurcher-thanks for that informative post, it was really interesting-I also chose aptimal as the formula choice through mw & marketing of 'closest' to breast milk.

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