Nestle and Heinz have denied accusations their advertising of infant formula and cereal products in India breach regulations in the country.
Two charities – the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India and the International Baby Food Action Network – have claimed Nestle, together with Abbott Laboratories and Heinz, are promoting infant nutrition products on Indian websites in breach of India’s Infant Milk Substitutes Act.
A spokesperson for India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told just-food earlier today (2 August) the government would take “a very serious look” at the case. “We are committed to promoting and supporting breastfeeding,” the spokesperson added.
However, speaking to just-food this afternoon, Nestle categorically denied any wrong-doing in the country and insisted the allegations are “incorrect and misleading”.
“Nestle India applies and is fully compliant with the Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992 (IMS Act),” a spokesperson for the company said. “We do not have any commercial relationships with companies operating external websites which sell infant nutrition products.”
Campaigners have also suggested Nestle promotes the use of breast milk substitutes through the Nestle Nutrition Institute, which engages with health professionals.
Again, Nestle rebuffed this suggestion. “The Nestle Nutrition Institute does not advertise or promote infant milk substitutes or infant food. NNI engages exclusively with health professionals to share science-based nutrition information and education, in compliance with the IMS Act.”
A spokesperson for Heinz also refuted the campaigners’ claims. “The report is both inaccurate and misleading as Heinz does not manufacture or market infant formula or infant cereals in India,” the spokesperson said.
Abbott was not immediately available for comment.