Nestlé is in trouble again for influencing Indian doctors to recommend its baby products, including infant milk powder. This has happened when the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare received a complaint from NGO Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI). This matter has already been forwarded to the Union Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD), which is responsible for promoting breastfeeding in India.
Preeti Sudan, secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said, “We have forwarded the complaint to relevant authorities and have been checking the complaint internally too. Once we get the confirmation on the alleged violation, we will take strict action.”
The BPNI expressed doubts in its letter to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, about the programme organised named as “scientific programme” by Nestlé Nutrition Institute for doctors on 24 October 2018 in Maharashtra’s Dhule.
BPNI says in the letter, signed by Dr J.P. Dadhich, the NGO’s technical director, “We request you to initiate appropriate action against Nestlé Nutrition and others who have violated the IMS Act.”
In India, the Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods Act, also known as the IMS Act, prohibits direct and indirect sponsorship of health workers by product manufacturers.
However, the Nestlé Nutrition Institute has denied the allegations, stating that the programme was just meant for knowledge exchange and also mentioned that the event was not organised to promote instant formulae.
A spokesperson from Nestle said, “Nestlé Nutrition Institute [NNI] organises scientific workshops wherein healthcare professionals discuss various scientific topics and share science-based nutrition information.”
He also added, “The participation to these sessions is voluntary. The objective of the session mentioned by you was also for the purpose of sharing science/nutrition-based topics and not to promote infant formulae.”
The company also mentioned, “The local IMS Act does not discourage or prohibit dissemination of scientific information. The scientific conferences are organised by NNI and no payment or pecuniary benefit is provided to the participants. Further the infant nutrition products are not discussed nor displayed at the scientific conference.”