No Nestle’ in Newark


 

Corey Booker, mayor of Newark, signed an agreement in February to partner with Nestle’, one of the four most boycotted companies in the world. Nestle donated $100,000 to Let’s Move! Newark, an initiative to fight obesity and promote breastfeeding.

If you consider it a conflict of interest that Newark is partnering with a manufacturer whose products cause obesity and compete with breastfeeding, have no fear. In an email to Time reporter, Bonnie Rochman, Christina Lawrence, head of corporate affairs for Nestle’ Infant Nutrition, said, “The program is unbranded and no specific products will be showcased, provided or endorsed as part of it.”

She must not have been referring to the formula brands showcased behind Mayor Booker’s podium (see photo above) when he announced the partnership with Nestle’ or when he showed off the big check from Nestle’.(see photo at left).

All this, for just $100,000. To a company like Nestle, with annual sales in 2009 of $103.68 billion, $100,000 is a drop in the bucket for this kind of exposure.

Multinational companies in general, and Nestle’ in particular, look for situations in which to expose their brand to potential customers. For example, Nestle’ and other formula companies have sought brand recognition among breastfeeding mothers by distributing formula samples to them, something that has been very effective in undermining breastfeeding. Their new marketing strategy is to position themselves as feeding consultants.

In February, Nestle’s Gerber launched a new initiative with the Michigan state government to help reduce childhood obesity rates. The program will work with hospitals and medical schools to provide nutritional information and training for the medical community. Of course, no logos will be shown.

In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics partnered with the Nestle’ Nutrition Institute to develop “positive, family-focused messages specific to obesity prevention…” Gerber makes Gerber Graduate Lil Entrees, a toddler pasta dish with more than twice the amount of salt as a medium order of McDonald’s fries; Nestle’, owner of Gerber, makes money selling foods that contribute to obesity.

Breastfeeding is political. Tens of millions of dollars are spent annually to advertise formula to women who have been advised by their doctors and their Surgeon General to exclusively breastfeed. Baby Milk Action has been working for over 30 years to protect families from the agreessive marketing practices of Nestle and other formula companies. And, while over 60 countries have introduced laws to enforce the International Code for the Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, the formula industry fights them all on a country by country basis.

Maria Parlapiano, a nurse and lactation consultant in Chatham, NJ, has been trying to get a meeting with Booker since February, but to no avail; she and Renee Hefti-Graham, also a nurse and lactation consultant, have been working literally non-stop for the last three months to resist this partnership. Read her story at All Things Mothering. Pariapiano has started a petition on change.org to protest the Nestle’ partnership with Newark. Sign her petition now.

We must match the aggressive marketing of formula with our own unwavering determination. The corporate profits of billionaires must not rob our children of their birthright: the milk of their own species.

Peggy O’Mara  (101 Posts)

Peggy O’Mara founded Mothering.com in 1995 and is currently its editor-in chief. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has lectured and conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League International, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four.

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