Are the breastfeeding cheeseburger ads part of a stealth Nestle anti-breastfeeding campaign?

breast cheeseburger

If you thought that these ads were powerful, disturbing and upsetting, wait until you hear this: the ads may be part of a stealth Nestle campaign to promote formula feeding.

breast Coke

breast donut

Ostensibly, Sociedade de Pediatria do Rio Grande do Sul has embarked upon a campaign to convince breastfeeding women that:

Your child is what you eat. Yours habits in the first thousand days of gestation can prevent your child from developing serious diseases.

My first thought on viewing the images was that scaring breastfeeding mothers is a terrible way to promote breastfeeding.

That may be the point. It turns out that these images may actually be part of a stealth ANTI-breastfeeding campaign promoted by Nestle.

I was alerted to this possibility by Baby Milk Action UK which describes itself as “as part of a global network [that] acts to stop misleading marketing by the baby feeding industry.”

The campaign raises a number of red flags:

1. The ads are sponsored by Sociedade de Pediatria do Rio Grande do Sul, an organization that receives substantial funding from Nestle. Each year the Sociedade sponsors a refresher course in pediatrics that prominently features Nestle.

[pullquote align=”right” color=”#415461″]There is no scientific evidence that eating junk food affects the quality of breastmilk.[/pullquote]

Curso Nestle

Nestle has a checkered history in Brazil. According to this physician’s blog (Google translated from Portugese):

Going back a little in time, around the 1950s, Nestlé came to Brazil selling the idea that her milk was better and more nutritious than breast milk. In the decade of the 50/60 contests were common “children’s strength” where the mother sent a picture of the chubby baby in front of a pyramid Nest milk cans (that I saw personally, no one told me). Quickly breastfeeding turned “poor thing”. Only I nursed who could not buy milk nest.

Also happened to representatives of the brand go to hospitals and distribute free samples of their milk for families, doctors and nurses.

In Africa, this has had a devastating effect and became a big scandal: the mothers received free samples of infant formula, and then weaned their children could not afford to buy more milk, or sanitize bottles. Hundreds of children died of malnutrition and gastroenteritis as a result of “generosity” Nestlé.

Any resemblance to the strategy used by drug traffickers is no coincidence.

This position paper (Google translated from Portugese) describes Nestle’s current strategy:

…The case describes the way as Nestlé has been developing integrated communication infant feeding, associating your image science, by investing in Research and Development products, channels of open dissemination of research on pediatrics and nutrology, the establishing partnerships, sponsorship and promotion of events aimed at professionals these areas, potential influencers together to buyers Mothers milk powder infants, and its strategic adaptation to environmental influence of regulatory procedures established by the National Health Council since 1988. The case presents itself as problem situation the efforts made ​​by Nestle in an attempt to influence the class medical, important opinion leaders on children’s products and thus their position brands with security associations, care and quality…

2. The ad campaign appears to be very high quality and likely very expensive. While it is certainly possible that a pediatric society would expend a large amount of money on an ad campaign, it seems like an unusual use of funds.

3. The ads are in English and were rolled out in an English language publication, the Daily Mail:

A disturbing new advertising campaign warns expectant mothers about the effects their food and drink intake can have on their unborn children – by showing young babies suckling on breasts that have been painted to look like a variety of unhealthy treats.

The alarming ads, created for Brazil’s Pediatric Society of Rio Grande (SPRS), also feature the ominous tagline: ‘Your child is what you eat,’…

Designed by Brazilian-based agency Paim, the ads are a startling reminder that mothers can potentially harm their young babies with their poor diets.

The article suggests that the Daily Mail received the information on the campaign directly from the ad agency, and not from the SPRS. Indeed, the ads do not appear on the SPRS website.

According to José Pedro Bortolini, one of the creators of the campaign, the ads will appear in Portugese. Bortolini, commenting on the Milk Action website, claims:

This campaign WAS NOT sponsored by Nestle in anyway whatsoever. It was comissioned by the Pediatric Society of Rio Grande do Sul (a state in Brazil) to raise awareness about the first 1000 days of a child, from the gestation to the first two years of his life. The brief was to promote a healthy diet of a mother can bring benefits to the baby.

4. Nutrition in the first 1000 days? Where have I heard that phrase before? Oh, I know. It’s part of Nestle’s formula marketing campaign.

The First 1,000 Days: NestlŽ leadership in Infant Nutrition.

What an amazing coincidence!

5. The images have no basis in fact. Your breastfed baby is NOT what you eat. There is no scientific evidence of any kind that eating junk food affects the quality of breastmilk. The Daily Mail article notes:

A recent study by Robert Waterland, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine, found that healthy diets of pregnant mothers can result in babies developing a gene variant that suppresses tumors.

But the investigators in that study looked at Gambian women and compared those who conceived when food was plentiful with those who conceived when it was scarce. The study was about the impact of starvation in pregnancy. It had nothing to do with breastfeeding at all, which raises the question as to why it is mentioned in connection with this ad campaign.

6. The images are meant to scare breastfeeding women from breastfeeding. As a commentor on the Milk Action website noted:

Let’s be honest here, if you wanted to promote healthy diets an lifestyles you’d have painted broccoli and apples on the breasts and made it a positive ad…

The ads don’t encourage breastfeeding; they discourage breastfeeding for fear of harming a child’s health if the mother doesn’t have a perfect diet.

Taken together, these 6 points support the disturbing possibility that these ads are not an effort to promote breastfeeding, but a stealth effort to promote formula feeding.

If it turns out that this is the case, the ads are not merely powerful, disturbing and upsetting; they are reprehensible.

124 Responses to “Are the breastfeeding cheeseburger ads part of a stealth Nestle anti-breastfeeding campaign?”

  1. Elizabeth A
    September 23, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Further to my starving while breastfeeding point – is there any evidence that cheeseburgers are harmful? That burger is high in fat and protein. There’s carbs in the roll. So there’s a good macronutrient balance there, higher in fat than you’d ordinarily want, but that’s kind of useful for breastfeeding. The cheese has calcium and the beef has iron. The vegetables are raw, and maximally nutritious for what they are. How is this supposed to be bad for babies, exactly?

    • Azuran
      September 23, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

      I’d say that if your overall diet is balanced enough, then it doesn’t matter what you ate on day 72 of your breastfeeding (or any other specific day, whether or not you are pregnant, breastfeeding or neither)

      That particular burger does look ridiculously greasy (and oh so delicious, I’d totally eat it) but eating one of those once in a while will do nothing to you or your baby. You can totally include a greasy bacon double cheeseburgers in a healthy diet once in a while. Or just chose healthier ingredients to put in it if you really want to eat them all the time.

  2. Katarina Novak
    September 22, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    It must be said that the campaign has a point. It is illogical to claim that the quality of breastmilk has no connection with the producer’s diet.
    Breastmilk is supposed to be nutritious. Just where the hell do you think those nutrients come from, if not from food?

    If you are what you eat, then it logically follows, that a child fed by your bodily fluids, is also what you eat.

    • Guestll
      September 22, 2015 at 11:36 am #

      No, actually, it doesn’t.

      • Katarina Novak
        September 22, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

        Look, genius; you can’t give something you don’t have. If a woman’s body doesn’t get proper nutrients, it doesn’t have anything nutritious to put in a bodily fluid.

        • Guestll
          September 22, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

          Sorry the scientific evidence bursts your bubble, cupcake.

          • Katarina Novak
            September 23, 2015 at 6:45 am #

            You don’t get to cite scientific evidence, while quoting that nutjob as a source.
            If there is an actual published study claiming this, then it is an unscientific hack-job, designed to pander to LaLeaky League.

          • Guestll
            September 23, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

            Start here.

            Maternal diet in relation to lactation has been studied extensively. How do you think women during famines/food disruption keep their infants alive? Diet makes little to no difference in the quality of a human mother’s milk. It’s not agenda, it’s fact. I routinely see women who live on substandard diets and are suffering undernutrition — yet with thriving nurslings. Happens all over the world.

          • Katarina Novak
            September 26, 2015 at 6:51 am #

            And 50 years ago, doctors claimed that a person’s diet has no bearing on their health.
            Try to use your brain, if you have one. Nutrients don’t just magically appear out of nowhere!

            Why the hell do you think they prescribe special vitamins to sperm-infected women?

            Because they don’t get enough nutrients with their diets, and as a result, their offspring develops birth defects.

          • Inmara
            September 26, 2015 at 8:13 am #

            AFAIK there is only one nutrient – folic acid – which is insufficient in most women’s diet and crucial for development of fetus, and therefore prescribed for women trying to conceive and during first trimester. All other deficiencies impact rather mother herself than developing baby (if we are speaking about ‘normal’ conditions in developed world, not real or functional famine).

          • Elizabeth A
            September 26, 2015 at 9:11 am #

            Why the hell do you think they prescribe special vitamins to sperm-infected women?

            Oh! You’re *trolling*! Okay.

            They recommend specific OTC vitamins to pregnant women because they like those women not to suffer from alopecia and osteoperosis later in life. Folic acid is also useful. However, most women can safely get through pregnancy, and deliver healthy babies, without prenatal vitamins. They’re a best practice, not an absolute necessity.

            Generally speaking, if you are getting enough calories to maintain your body weight, and eating at least some fresh foods, you are getting enough nutrients in your diet.

          • Katarina Novak
            September 27, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

            Not according to what the World Health Organization has been saying for the last 10 years.

          • Nick Sanders
            September 27, 2015 at 4:13 pm #


          • Sarah
            September 26, 2015 at 9:31 am #

            Do you think there are no nutrients in a cheeseburger, out of interest? I’ve no horse in this race btw, I don’t eat them and nor do I breastfeed. Just interested.

          • Katarina Novak
            September 27, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

            Junk food is deliberately devoid of nutrients, in order to make people eat and, of course, buy more of it.

            It’s the feedlot principle, where animals are given food that is as devoid of nutrients as possible, in order to make them spend their every waking moment, psychotically eating.

            Add to this, that the World Health Organisation has been recommending as early as 2004, that the food we consume today, is so significantly poorer in nutrients, that they deemed it a necessity for everyone to take vitamin and mineral supplements.

            These recommendations were made for healthy people, with nothing leeching nutrients from their bodies.

            As a former personal wellness coach, I must also reiterate, that a great majority of “pregnancy problems”, including food cravings, are caused by nutritional deficiencies.

            For example; a protein deficiency in a normal healthy person, manifests itself with constant craving for sweets and simple carbohydrates.

          • Guestll
            September 27, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

            “Personal wellness coach” — I seriously laughed out loud.

          • PrimaryCareDoc
            September 27, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

            “For example; a protein deficiency in a normal healthy person, manifests itself with constant craving for sweets and simple carbohydrates”

            Citation please.

          • Guestll
            September 27, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

            Why bother? She can’t seem to understand that maternal diet plays little to no role in the quality of a mother’s breastmilk, and seems to be conflating the effect of diet on a mother with diet on human milk quality. She’s a racist “former personal wellness coach.” That should tell you all you need to know. She ain’t got time for no citations, Doc. Y’all don’t know jack.

          • Nick Sanders
            September 27, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

            You’d think a lack of protein would result in a craving for, wait for it… protein.

          • Nick Sanders
            September 27, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

            Junk food is deliberately devoid of nutrients, in order to make people eat and, of course, buy more of it.

            Prove it.

          • Azuran
            September 27, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

            Where did you get that stupid feedlot principle? What kind of stupid farmer would pay actually money for worthless deficient food. That would only force him to buy more food, more storage cost, cause deficiency and health problems in his animals as well as increase the quantity of feces he has to take care of.
            Also, what would be the point of an animal eating psychotically?

          • Who?
            September 27, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

            So what would be the point of making animals eat food devoid of nutrients, since that won’t help them grow?

          • Who?
            September 27, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

            And I must not be ‘normal’-nasty, judgemental word-because when I don’t have animal protein for a while, I crave it. Not sweets or cakes, meat.

          • demodocus
            September 27, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

            Why on earth would a need for meat or beans manifest as a desire for fruit?

          • Sarah
            September 28, 2015 at 3:16 am #

            You haven’t answered my question. Do you think there are no nutrients in a cheeseburger, yes or no? I’ll leave someone else to deal with your ‘pregnancy problems’ claim.

          • Fallow
            September 26, 2015 at 11:21 am #

            I was getting ready to leave you a long, thoughtful reply. But your Disqus history indicates you’re kind of psychotically racist. That speaks so poorly of your critical thinking skills, that all of our efforts to talk to you are clearly being wasted.

          • Guestll
            September 26, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

            Only kind of?

          • Katarina Novak
            September 27, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

            You must know that I am correct, since you felt it necessary to trawl my Disqus history, to find something to attack me with in order to avoid the issue of this article.

          • Nick Sanders
            September 27, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

            And 50 years ago, doctors claimed that a person’s diet has no bearing on their health.

            Haha, no.

        • Who?
          September 22, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

          Just like undernourished women can’t carry a pregnancy, right? And no one ever lost a tooth or bone density from calcium loss while pregnant, or iron either for that matter.

  3. Mac Sherbert
    September 20, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    In that case my child is an Oreo cookie. I had the biggest craving for those cookies the first 2 months of BF! lol.

  4. Megan
    September 18, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    A comment from one of the ad’s creators in the original article as linked above:

    “Hi, I’m one of the creators of this campaign.
    I would like to point out many inaccuracies in this article:
    1-This campaign WAS NOT sponsored by Nestle in anyway whatsoever. It was comissioned by the Pediatric Society of Rio Grande do Sul (a state in Brazil) to raise awareness about the first 1000 days of a child, from the gestation to the first two years of his life.
    The brief was to promote a healthy diet of a mother can bring benefits to the baby.
    And yes, we chose a strong image to get peoples attention.
    2- Nestlé is not a client in Paim. I have worked there from 2012 to 2015 and never ever saw any material from Nestlé.
    Nesté was a client in fact many years ago for a brief period. Therefore it DID HAVE NOT any involvement with this ad.
    3- The ad is in english because we send it to some advertising websites that showcase portfolios from around the globe.
    We didn’t expected that the campaign would become a viral hit internationally way before domestic. This is the reason more people came across with the english ads.
    The campaign was launched in portuguese. If you go to SPRS website you will see this versions of the ads.
    Well I hope that I could shed some light in the questions your article presented. Sometime the truth is simpler that it seems.
    Best regards.”

    • Megan
      September 18, 2015 at 8:50 pm #

      There is some back and forth between this person and the author of the article. Interesting to read…

    • fiftyfifty1
      September 18, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

      “And yes, we chose a strong image to get peoples attention.”

      I’m getting pretty sick of this excuse. It’s the same justification that they used for the bronco-riding pregnant woman add campaign.

      I guess women aren’t smart enough to make choices based on actual information. Nope, they are so dumb and also so inattentive that what they need is a “strong image” to shock and insult and manipulate them into making “the right” parenting choices.

      • Angharad
        September 18, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

        To be fair, I think advertising in general goes for shock, sex, or stereotypes and tends to be light on actual information. It’s typically based on strong images so you’ll remember the message. I don’t think that’s necessarily right, but it isn’t just ads aimed at women.

        • Inmara
          September 19, 2015 at 12:18 am #

          People in advertising industry often aim their creative ideas to award contests, as long as client approves them, so no wonder they use more and more controversial and shocking visual language.

          • fiftyfifty1
            September 19, 2015 at 9:01 am #

            You and Angharad have a good point. I read the back-and-forth with the ad’s creator in the original link, and he seemed to be of the same attitude.

            Multiple people pointed out to him that the message sent in the campaign was factually dead wrong from a scientific standpoint, and that the takeaway message was not going to be “eat better” but rather “don’t breastfeed because your milk will harm your baby”. That basically he had failed, worse than failed really, to promote the objectives of the people who had commissioned his work.

            But he seemed entirely unconcerned with these objections and kept saying how the campaign was a huge success because it had grabbed so much attention and had gone viral. He was hoping it would win an award.

          • Cobalt
            September 19, 2015 at 9:07 am #

            What award do you win for having a lot of attention being drawn to your ad campaign’s working against its objectives?

          • Angharad
            September 19, 2015 at 9:36 am #

            I guess the theory is that all attention is good attention.

          • Inmara
            September 19, 2015 at 11:03 am #

            Often ads are praised for their creativity and controversy in such contests so actual success of campaign doesn’t matter.

          • Cobalt
            September 19, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

            Like losing the race because you ran the wrong direction from the starting line but getting the trophy anyway because you wore the most outrageous shorts?

            That’s dumb.

        • Megan
          September 19, 2015 at 9:05 am #

          The problem becomes when they use their usual tactics when it is (supposedly) meant to be a public health campaign, not to sell something.

          • Megan
            September 19, 2015 at 9:06 am #

            And when the info advertised is false.

          • Angharad
            September 19, 2015 at 9:25 am #

            Very true, but I guess I tend to blame the clients there more than the advertising people. The Pediatric Society of Rio should have sent this back with suggestions for improvement.

            There was an antismoking campaign in my city a few years ago that drove me crazy, which I’m reminded of. It listed ingredients in cigarettes and then said something nasty that ingredient is also found in (like “Cigarettes contain [something you can’t pronounce], which is also found in floor cleaner. Do you want that in your body?” I hated it because there are plenty of valid reasons to not smoke without resorting to chemophobia. And some of the chemicals they listed were actually essential to the body in trace amounts (although obviously cigarettes shouldn’t be your source of metals). There I also blamed the people who commissioned and approved the ads rather than the advertisers.

          • Angharad
            September 19, 2015 at 9:31 am #

            And the fact that this wasn’t sent back shows how judgmental everyone feels entitled to be of breastfeeding women. Lactivists do lots of things that are counterproductive, like telling women to never supplement ever even though it can help women feel happier about their breastfeeding and possibly continue it for longer. This is another counterproductive campaign that shames women and calls them bad mothers and says that if you can’t breastfeed perfectly you shouldn’t bother.

          • Megan
            September 19, 2015 at 9:45 am #

            Totally agree

          • Megan
            September 19, 2015 at 9:45 am #

            That’s true. I suppose ultimately SPRS is the party responsible for the content.

      • RMY
        September 19, 2015 at 11:59 am #

        Hasn’t psychology basically proven that making such all-or-nothing claims about people’s destinies does more harm than good overall? I mean, we tell people they’ll be fat if they have junk food, they’ll amount to nothing unless they do college (and grad school), etc. Parenting seems to be worse. If you don’t exclusively breastfeed (you get to brag about “not one drop”), do complete attachment parenting (your child gets 24/7 access to you, healthy marriage be damned), your kid will grow up to have issues that will be 100% your fault.

      • Katarina Novak
        September 22, 2015 at 11:32 am #

        “I guess women aren’t smart enough to make choices based on actual
        information. Nope, they are so dumb and also so inattentive that what
        they need is a “strong image” to shock and insult and manipulate them
        into making “the right” parenting choices.”

        I have to point out, not without some irony, that women who decide on homebirth, would tell you the same thing about it.

        • fiftyfifty1
          September 22, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

          Exactly! Women choosing between hospital and home don’t need lies about shaving and forced enemas, and images of “they slice you open hip to hip” in order for them to make the “right” decision that will validate NCB proponents’ fragile egos.

          What women need (and can handle!) is facts: Your baby is 3-8 times as likely to die if you deliver at home, and CPMs do not have any real medical training. If a woman knows those 2 facts and chooses homebirth with a CPM anyway, that is fine with me. I’m not going to try to manipulate her out of her choice.

  5. aurorarose
    September 18, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    Even if this is done by Nestle, this attitude is shared by a lot of lactivists. Not only do you have to EBF, you have to eat only salmon (free-range of course caught in only a few approved places), kale and quinoa while doing so. Don’t even dare to have one slice of pizza or *gasp* some fries from McDonalds or its time to call CPS.

  6. Elizabeth A
    September 18, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    My dominant memory of breast feeding is that I was incredibly hungry ALL THE TIME. I was in business school, pumping 30-40 ounces of milk a day (chronic oversupply), and also nursing my son evenings and weekends. I could not eat enough to keep up, really. In order to get through a day of lectures without fainting or losing my temper, I was packing along greek yogurt, chocolate milk, nuts, – basically, every high-fat food I could think of and either keep safe to eat or eat before it went off – and by the time I got to the end of the day, I could still count on literally twitching with hunger. Burgers from the campus food court were what made it safe for me to drive home.

    Those ads make me pretty mad.

    • Dr Kitty
      September 18, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

      Oh boy, that sounds tough!
      You must have been your local milk bank’s favourite person though (assuming your own kiddo wasn’t getting through 40oz a day).

    • guest
      September 22, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

      I had a very similar experience – I was starving, all the time, and feeding twins with an oversupply. Add sleep deprivation to that and most days eating involved stuffing whatever food was ready to hand and not in need of cooking before the shakes got too bad. High calorie foods like cheeseburgers or donuts helped me get the calories I needed fast. I can’t imagine trying to eat enough kale to do the same.

  7. demodocus
    September 18, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    As an obese person, I already feel guilty if I break down and indulge my burger or ice cream craving occasionally. Thanks, Nestle! I’m sure the extra dose of shame would really cure my comfort-eating tendencies!

    • demodocus
      September 18, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

      Ironically, I mostly identify nestle with chocolate chips for baking. I buy Hershey, though.

      • Amy
        September 18, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

        Ghirardelli. ALWAYS Ghirardelli.

        • demodocus
          September 18, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

          When I can. My guys have less sophisticated palettes, sadly

  8. Dr Kitty
    September 18, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    This is about the perfect being the enemy of the good.
    Breastfeeding requires a relatively high calorie diet.
    If you eat nothing but brown rice, steamed non-GMO tofu and organic vegetables, it might be hard to physically eat the volume of food necessary to get 2500 calories every day.

    Better actually get the calories, fat and protein you need to make good quality milk from “less ideal” foodstuffs than to struggle to get sufficient energy from “perfect” food.

    Saying this as someone who at 3weeks post partum is back to my pre-pregnancy weight, has a cluster feeding, thriving infant who is putting on an oz a day, and who would seriously struggle to maintain a good milk supply and a healthy weight if ice cream, cheeseburgers and pizza were off the menu!

    Oh, and you can take my morning coffee from my cold, dead hands.

    • Kelly
      September 18, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

      I completely agree. I ate a lot of fast food because it was the only thing that would make me feel full for a few hours. I craved meat as well.

    • Daleth
      September 18, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

      When I was pregnant I once ate a turkey burger and five buffalo burgers in a single evening. (No buns, just the burgers and condiments). And I am not a large person. Mamas NEED protein.

  9. Amy
    September 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    It’ll be interesting to see the reactions of all the sanctimommies who accuse you of being a shill for formula companies. This was a fantastic post– thank you.

  10. lawyer jane
    September 18, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    KUDOS Dr Amy! Nestle and its shareholders are very concerned about their global position.

  11. Amy Tuteur, MD
    September 18, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    I’m interested to see whether SPRS and Nestle deny the allegations.

  12. The Bofa on the Sofa
    September 18, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    Never attribute to malice what you can attribute to stupidity?

    Nestle is evil, but then again, nutritional “advocacy” groups (including the lactivists) have demonstrated stupidity.

    I have no problem accepting that they were dumb enough to co-opt a Nestle marketing slogan.

    • Roadstergal
      September 18, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

      Yeah – I mean, this negative angle is stupid and counterproductive when it comes to breastfeeding, but a lot of lactivist stuff is stupid and counterproductive when it comes to breastfeeding. I dunno either way, but it’s certainly the sort of thing that could just as easily come from a lactivist standpoint. Isn’t it funny that I can’t tell one from the other?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        September 18, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

        Isn’t it funny that I can’t tell one from the other?

        Yeah, it’s a variation on Tao’s law…

    • Nick Sanders
      September 18, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

      Ok, so, I see more than one person saying this, so I’m going to ask you all to inform my ignorant self, what does Nestlé do that is so evil?

      • Cobalt
        September 18, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

        Short version: convince poor women who can’t afford formula and would breastfeed to formula feed through unethical marketing, provide free formula until their milk dries up, then collect profit while they struggle to buy enough formula to keep the kid alive.

        Not unlike the tactics drug dealers use.

        It’s why the WHO code was necessary.

        • Nick Sanders
          September 18, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

          Wow, that’s incredibly shitty. Thank you for explaining.

          • Roadstergal
            September 18, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

            It’s definitely one of those incidents that, to me, shows that Regulation of Corporations is a very important thing.

            It also, apparently, shows that if you are a middle-class woman in the developed world with clean tap water, it’s critical to EBF your baby until they get to college unless you’re happy being a bad mother.

          • September 18, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

            Oh boy, that means I was a TERRIBLE mother! How come I managed to produce three happy, healthy, and successful [not to mention handsome] children??

          • Roadstergal
            September 18, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

            Ugh, my lactivist friend is convinced that any FF kid that turns out healthy and smart is just ‘lucky.’ 🙁

          • Cobalt
            September 18, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

            Any kid that turns out healthy and smart is lucky. Nature’s default setting is “survive long enough to outbreed your neighbor”, not “be the next Bill Gates”.

        • Joy
          September 18, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

          While I agree with the other more recent points, at what point will the formula in Africa thing go away? It was the 70s and very early 80s. 35 years ago.

          • Megan
            September 18, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

            I would think when they start showing that they have actually changed their behavior. If they are still saying they don’t think access to clean running water is a “right” (see comment below) I’d say they aren’t there yet. If they are indeed responsible for these ads to discourage breastfeeding I’d say they aren’t there yet.

          • Guestll
            September 18, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

            It’s still happening in some parts of the developing world. And it didn’t end in the early 80s in Africa, either. My brother ran clinics in both Zaire and Zimbabwe in the 90s and was approached several times by formula reps.

            Babies suffered and died because of a terrible lack of ethics. Doesn’t matter if it was 35 years ago, and once again, it’s still happening today. The NGO I work for is still part of an active boycott due to ongoing violations.

      • Cobalt
        September 18, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

        They’ve also been accused of child labor and human rights violations on cocoa plantations in Africa, widespread ecological damage in California by screwing with groundwater levels for their bottled water, having 7 times the legal amount of lead in the noodles they sell in India (where they control a huge portion of the noodle market), having horse meat in beef products sold in Europe and other various issues.

        • Nick Sanders
          September 18, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

          Good to know, thank you.

        • Allie
          September 19, 2015 at 6:58 am #

          The idea that horsemeat is somehow inedible is an American cultural hangup. In continental Europe a horse has always been a farm animal and at the end of its useful life it’s slaughtered and eaten just like everything else on the farm. In fact there are many delicious varieties of deli meats that can only be prepared using horse.
          Of course packaged food should always contain exactly what it says on the label so Nestle is in the wrong there, but let’s not pretend that eating horses is somehow bad for you or morally wrong.

          • Inmara
            September 19, 2015 at 8:20 am #

            Not really in all Europe – in Latvian culture horses bear such importance and respect that most people are opposed to horsemeat on a moral basis. Traditionally old horses in were buried rather than eaten because they were so important part of rural household that were treated more like family members and not just livestock.

          • fiftyfifty1
            September 19, 2015 at 9:06 am #

            If eating horse is only an American cultural hangup, how come there was such an uproar *in Europe* about the findings? Are you saying it was coming from American expats? Or that it was coming from Europeans but that their only objection was the labeling error?

          • T.
            September 19, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

            In Italy, horsemeat is sold in supermarkets. Donkey meat is rarer, but can be found. Makes great stew and is very high protein. I like it quite a lot.

            The point was false labelling here, and the fact that it was racehorses that were being killed and put in the “beef”, without the tests and the like that such meat should have before being used for human consuption (racehorses are at a very high risk of been given drugs to alter their performances).

          • Cobalt
            September 19, 2015 at 9:12 am #

            Eating horses is no more or less morally wrong than eating any other animal in the same circumstances.

            False food labelling, as you pointed out, is a different story. It’s never ok to lie about what’s in the can.

          • Chione
            September 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

            Not morally wrong (though there are some people who feel it’s akin to eating dogs) but one generally does not want to consume some old nag that has spent the last few years subsisting on a steady diet of bute (i.e. phenylbutazone, a painkiller that’s not at all approved as a part of human nutrition).

  13. Gatita
    September 18, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    I showed this to my husband and he said that if it were any other company besides Nestle, he’d call shenanigans. But Nestle is so evil that it’s not surprising they did this.

  14. Gatita
    September 18, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    OT: Dramatic photos of babies born by caesarean section.

    • Daleth
      September 18, 2015 at 9:43 am #

      Those are amazing. Thanks for posting.

    • Kesiana
      September 18, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

      Those photos are AWESOME.

      It’s interesting to study the babies’ colors, too–some of them look like they haven’t taken a breath yet. On the flip side, one baby (Liza) is very pink, but has much less visible tone than the others. (Then again, she’s only THREE SECONDS old in that picture!)

      …I may or may not have found that gallery on my own when researching for a sci-fi story. How do you determine a newborn’s health when you have no idea what color they’re supposed to be? XD

    • seekingbalance
      September 18, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

      beautiful and affirming. thanks for sharing.

  15. Ellen Mary
    September 18, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    Wow! I am shocked. I knew the ads discouraged BF & shamed mothers & were not based on science (as even many pharmaceuticals transfer @ very low rates, never mind food additives or whatever we are concerned about here). But I had no idea they could overtly be to discourage BF. I have worried about my diet a lot, but I have never worried about in regards to my milk quality.

  16. fiftyfifty1
    September 18, 2015 at 8:22 am #

    Of course these images are only “powerful, disturbing and upsetting” because we have become unreasonable about food.

    Cheeseburgers, as Antigonos mentions below, contain a lot of nutrition, especially protein. Pastries, such as donuts, are traditional breakfast foods in many cultures. And although man cannot live on soda alone, it’s a reasonable treat from time to time.

    The fact that we call it “junk food” says a lot. Junk is garbage. When you call food junk food you are in effect telling people that they are eating from the trash can.

    Yet another example of how food prudes have replaced sexual prudes in society.

    • Sarah
      September 18, 2015 at 10:12 am #

      I’ve also heard nutritionists talk about pizza before. It’s not great for you (calorie dense and often with lots of sodium) but it does have a lot of different food groups in one meal, especially if you have diverse toppings with fruit and veggies and meat. If you make your own, you can even better control the nutrition balance.

      • Cobalt
        September 18, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

        Caloric density is only bad if you consume high quantities. If you can only afford one meal a day, the cheeseburger or pizza would be better than lettuce or cucumbers.

        Value is always relative to need.

        • Roadstergal
          September 18, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

          Exactly. We’ve evolved with a taste for sugar and fat because they’re great sources of energy and raw material. It’s only a fairly recent thing that scarcity is no longer the norm for a certain subset of the population.

        • Sarah
          September 18, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

          Yeah, my use of “not great” was kind of vague. If you can only afford one meal a day, pizza can be good for you, especially if it has a variety of toppings.

          • fiftyfifty1
            September 18, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

            ” If you can only afford one meal a day, pizza can be good for you, especially if it has a variety of toppings.”

            Oh, you don’t have to be in desperate straights or add in a bunch of qualifiers for pizza to be good for you. Pizza is a delicious and nutritious food. Full stop. I eat pizza probably 4 times a week and I’m a middle age woman in terrific health.

          • Sarah
            September 18, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

            I’m worried I’m coming across like a nutrition snob here. I’ve been having one of those weird exhaustion days and haven’t been able to form a coherent thought. :p

            I didn’t mean to suggest that pizza was a terrible food otherwise or that you have to only have one meal a day for it to be okay to eat. I really just meant to say that it’s a very nutritionally diverse food, and although calorie-dense, good in moderation (like most food). Now, the only reason I mentioned calorie dense is that I used to eat way too much pizza when I did eat it, so whatever nutritional value I got from the ingredients on my pizza might not have balanced out the extreme amount of calories I had just ingested. Now, that’s just me. I know there are a lot of people who are much better at portion control, but I try to avoid calorie dense things just for my own personal weight control purposes.

            I’ve since grown out of my taste for pizza, so this is all moot. I’m one of those social pariahs who makes a face when others suggest “how about pizza?”

          • demodocus
            September 18, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

            Oddly, even as a kid I could take or leave pizza. Don’t like salt, either

        • fiftyfifty1
          September 18, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

          Exactly. And I would take it even further. Caloric density is only bad if you consume high quantities when you don’t need high quantities and do so on a frequent basis. And even then that’s way better for you than not getting enough.

          For 99.999999% of human history, calorie dense foods made the difference between life and death. But now we take sufficient food for granted and demonize calorie dense foods.

    • September 18, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

      You know, back when my kids were small, there was an American-owned burger bar in downtown Jerusalem called “MacDavid’s”. The owner had to explain all the time that it was meant as a take-off on MacDonald’s, then unknown here, as were nearly all the fast-food chains [most have never succeeded here, btw, due to what are called “workers’ restaurants” — small, ethnic, home-cooking type of restaurants which make, among other things, portions of barbequed meat in pita pockets with various salads and pickles for take-away]

      My kids always clamored to go to MacDavid’s and eventually, we had “MacAntigonos” nights when I served homemade pure beef burgers to them. Talk about wolfing down food! and when I pointed out to my anti- fast food friends that the burgers were indeed complete nutritious meals [bun=carbs, tomato, lettuce and pickle = veggies, and ground high quality beef = protein] I soon found that I was hosting all my kids’ friends on burger nights too.

      A hamburger is not, in and of itself, an evil thing. Neither is pizza and a salad. It’s all about quality and quantity.

  17. Anne Catherine
    September 18, 2015 at 7:56 am #

    Thank you for this article. Shame on Nestle. This makes me sick.

  18. KarenJJ
    September 18, 2015 at 5:24 am #

    This is one of the reasons why we need breastfeeding advocacy. Not to take away options for formula feeding families, not to remove access to formula for new mums in hospital, not to do endless “research” into the “benefits of breastfeeding” – BUT to ensure that women receive good information on feeding options that isn’t laden with other cultural messages about being a “good mother” and to advocate for access and support that they need to feed their babies with whatever choice that they’ve made/are making. It should be that simple, but some lactivists have decided to make it about validating their choices and not about what is “best for babies”..

  19. September 18, 2015 at 5:15 am #

    Actually, I never thought this might be a stealth approach to bottle feeding, but rather an appeal to breastfeeding mothers to eat sensibly.

    Of course, in a country like Brazil, if a poor woman can afford a cheeseburger, that may be the meal with the highest amount of protein around [OK, too fatty, etc. but poor women tend to eat too much carbs, which are cheaper, and skimp on protein]

    • Daleth
      September 18, 2015 at 9:39 am #

      I’m not sure a cheeseburger can be called “too fatty” for a breastfeeding (or pregnant) mama. Babies need lots of fat.

  20. Anna
    September 18, 2015 at 3:58 am #

    Finally! A backlash! I personally know mothers who not only continued eating burgers and suff while breasfeeding, but also could not give up on alcohol entirely. And they aren’t some marginal drinking women, they just had a pint of beer or glass of wine occasionally believing it does no harm to the baby. And they had the nerve to shame formula-feeders.

    • Dr Kitty
      September 18, 2015 at 7:11 am #

      Alcohol is metabolised at a rate of about 1hr per unit.
      If you are sober enough to drive you’re sober enough to breastfeed.
      If you have a pint of beer or a glass of wine and don’t feed your baby again for more than 3 hours then you AREN’T doing any harm, because there won’t be any alcohol in the breastmilk by the time of the next feed.
      It is about timing and amounts.

      It is easier to say “don’t drink while you are breastfeeding” but the scientific evidence supports a more nuanced approach, and shaming BF mothers who have an occasional glass of wine is probably not helpful.

      If someone likes the occasional glass of wine or pint of beer and continues to do so while breastfeeding, as long as she isn’t drinking to excess or feeding her baby while intoxicated, she’s not doing anything likely to cause harm.

      Certainly the anecdotal evidence of cultures where nursing mothers routinely and regularly drink small amounts of alcohol (Spain, Italy, France, Greece) would support that.

  21. Mattie
    September 18, 2015 at 2:53 am #

    Honestly Nestle’s track record with acting ethically in relation to infant feeding is poor at best, this isn’t exactly surprising…but it is sad.

  22. Cobalt
    September 17, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

    It is unacceptable to falsely inflate risks to pressure mothers to make the “right” (read: profitable) choice.

    If Nestle is up to no good, especially where the stake is infant health (and in poor areas health really is a concern for lack of access to safe alternatives to breastfeeding), then the hammer should come down on them so hard the executives who are responsible need to worry about their own food supply.

  23. Trixie
    September 17, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

    Very, very interesting.
    In some developing countries, Nestle not only has a monopoly on formula, but also on bottled water, which you need to safely mix the formula.

    • Amy
      September 18, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

      Well, the head of Nestle did come out last year or so and state that he doesn’t believe access to safe water is a right.

      • Daleth
        September 18, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

        What a psychopath.

      • Nick Sanders
        September 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

        Holy shit, he what?

      • Trixie
        September 18, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

        Yeah, I think they actually are holding back infrastructure development on purpose by bribing officials in some countries.

        • Amy
          September 18, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

          That is sickening. It’s a ton of work on my part to avoid Nestle products, but things like this are why.

    • Roadstergal
      September 18, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

      Yet another reason why clean running water in the developing world is what lactivists should push for if they want to stick it to The Man. (Oh, and save lives, too.)

    • Nick Sanders
      September 18, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

      Wow, ok, that’s just awful.

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