Monday, October 25, 2010

International Nestlé-Free Week (Oct 25-31)

Photo credit phdinparenting on flickr
I try to boycott Nestlé, but it's hard. Some of my favorite breakfast foods are off-limits when I stick to the boycott: Cheerios*, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Coffee-Mate. In fact, Nestle owns so many brands that it's downright difficult to keep up with what things I shouldn't buy when I'm at the grocery store.

But this week, if you go out to buy Halloween candy, make sure to skip the Nestlé brands. Choose a different cereal this time. Buy a locally-made coffee creamer.

Why boycott Nestlé, anyway?

Among many other things, Nestlé aggressively markets infant formula in blatant violation of the World Health Organization/UNICEF International Code of Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes. To put it plainly: there are places in the world that don't have clean water, and where people also don't have the money to spend on infant formula. Nestlé targets these groups, making them think that infant formula is superior to breastmilk. As a result or improper handling of infant formula babies die. Improper handling of artificial baby milk includes using unclean water, "watering down" bottles to make pricey cans of formula last longer, etc. Breastmilk provides invaluable immune benefits to babies. In cases where infants in developing countries are fed formula instead of breastmilk, these babies are that much more susceptible to the diseases that are prevalent in the community—but without the help from breastmilk to fight them off.

Phdinparenting has a bunch of wonderfully informative and passionate posts about the many reasons to boycott Nestlé. Here's an overview of some of the terrible things about Nestlé from a post called Why I Protest Nestlé's Unethical Business Practices:
  • Promoting infant formula with misleading and harmful strategies that violate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and put babies at risk;
  • Using suppliers that violate human rights (e.g. purchasing milk from Mugabe, buying cocoa from suppliers that use child slaves) and destroy the environment (e.g. palm oil from rainforest);
  • Controlling and abusing of water sources in its bottled water operations;
  • Promoting unhealthy food, especially for young children;
  • Trade union busting activities and denying the rights of workers to collectively bargain;
  • ...and more.
Birthing Beautiful Ideas has a great post on what the boycott is—and isn't—about. Namely, it's not about making you feel guilty, asking you to throw out any Nestle products you've already bought, looking down on families who feed formula, or thinking you're a "bad" parent. It is about "judging compaines who violate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and whose marketing practices do little to curb the estimated 1.5 million infant and child deaths each year that could have been prevented through improved breastfeeding practices."

So, please join me in boycotting Nestlé this week, even if you can't do it all year 'round.

If you want to help even more, go over to, and email Nestlé about their latest marketing scam that claims their infant formula "protects" babies, and is "The New "Gold Standard" in Infant Nutrition."

*Edited later to add: I was mistaken. Cheerios is owned by Nestlé outside the US, Canada, and Australia.


  1. Hi, Amy! What's the Cheerios connection to Nestle? I've been using the graphic from PhD in Parenting as a "cheat sheet," but I don't see General Mills on there. Thanks for this post!

  2. Rachael, you're right! I had looked it up a while ago and ignored the part that says Cheerios is sold by Nestlé in the UK and other countries, but not in the US, Canada, and Australia (where it's sold by General Mills). Thanks for setting me straight!


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