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Indian Govt blinks as Nestle breaks baby food law: BPNI

Oct 10, 2013

Nestle is already facing a criminal charge in the court of law for alleged violation of the IMS Act in 1994 and it took 17 years for the court to frame a charge in 2012.

New Delhi: The Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) has brought to light another incidence of the global giant Nestle breaking the baby food law in the country.

BPNI has drawn attention towards Nestle, a company which is not abiding by the law. “Even after more than two decades of having a law to regulate marketing of baby foods in India (IMS Act), Nestle is found breaking it,” BPNI states.

According to the law, the IMS Act, (Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution Act, 1992 and Amendment Act 2003) prohibits any kind of promotion of baby foods intended for use in children below 2 years of age.

The law clearly states that ‘promotion’ means to employ directly or indirectly any method of encouraging any person to purchase or use infant milk substitute, feeding bottle or infant food.

According to Dr Arun Gupta, Member, Prime Minister Council on India’s Nutrition Challenge ‘using certain expressions and graphic are meant to increase the saleability of the product and this is extremely objectionable. The law exists from 21 years and yet not fully implemented.”

Nestle is already facing a criminal charge in the court of law for alleged violation of the IMS Act in 1994 and it took 17 years for the court to frame a charge in 2012.

Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) having done this analysis has demanded that the Government of India should take immediate action to curb such misleading behaviour of the baby food industry by setting institutional mechanism to monitor the compliance of the law. BPNI has urged for setting up of fast track courts to settle criminal procedures in such cases.

In an analysis of labels done this week by BPNI, an agency gazetted to monitor the compliance with IMS Act, alleges that Nestle is promoting its two most popular products CERELAC and NAN Pro 1 and violating the law.

Some of the details leading to the corroboration of above propostion:

1. The Label of ‘infant food’ Cerelac stage 1 (Wheat)and Cerelac stage 2 (Wheat Orange) uses graphic pictures of foods such as rice, wheat, apple, orange, cherry ,honey, vegetables, moong daal , mixed fruits, mixed vegetables, mango and dates .These graphics are meant to increase the saleability of their next level of Cerelac products. (Refer picture 1).

This action violates Sec 6(2b) which says “No container or label referred to in sub section (1) relating to infant milk substitute or infant food shall (b) have pictures or other graphics material or phrases designed to increase the saleability of infant milk substitute or infant food;”

2.Nestle also uses an expression “Fortified Baby Cereal With Milk “ right below the main banner heading “Cerelac” but Sec 6 Rule (8d) bans such expression “No label or container of infant food shall exhibit the words Full protein food, Energy food, Complete food or Health food or any other similar expression in any language.”

3. NAN Pro 1 an ‘infant milk substitute’, on its label uses an expression stating “Infant formula with probiotics” with a graphical representation of “probiotic culture”. According to BPNI it also attracts both Sec 6 Rule (8d) and Sec 6(2b).

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